Investigation of crystalline silicon solar cells at the nano-scale using scanning probe microscopy techniques

Abstract : This thesis focuses on the investigation of crystalline silicon solar cells at the nano-scale using scanning probe microscopy (SPM) techniques. In particular, we chose to investigate electrical properties at the nano-scale using two SPM techniques: Kelvin Probe Force Microscopy (KPFM) and Conducting Probe Atomic Force Microscopy (CP-AFM).First, we highlight the strengths and weaknesses of both these techniques compared to electron microscopy techniques, which can also help investigate electrical properties at the nano-scale. This comprehensive comparison enables to identify measurements where KPFM and CP-AFM are particularly adequate. These measurements are divided in two categories: material investigation and devices investigation.Then, we focus on materials investigation at the nano-scale using SPM techniques. We first present doping measurements at the nano-scale using an advanced CP-AFM technique called Resiscope. We prove that this technique could detect doping changes in the range 1015 and 1020 atoms.cm-3 with a nano-scale resolution and a high signal/noise ratio. Then, we highlight decay time measurements on passivated crystalline silicon wafers using KPFM. Measurements are performed on the unpassivated cross-section. We show that, even though the cross-section is not passivated, decay times measurements obtained with KPFM are in good agreement with lifetimes measured by microwave photoconductivity decay.Subsequently, we focus on device measurements. Using KPFM, we investigate two different crystalline silicon solar cell architectures: epitaxial silicon (epi-Si) solar cells and interdigitated back contact (IBC) heterojunction solar cells. In particular, we focus on measurements on devices under operating conditions. We first study the influence of the applied electrical bias. We study the sensitivity of surface potential to electrical bias and we show that diode and resistance effects can be detected at the nano-scale. KPFM measurements are compared to scanning electron microscopy (SEM) measurements in the same conditions since SEM is also sensitive to surface potential. We show that KPFM measurements on the cross-section of epi-Si solar cells can help detect electric field changes with electrical bias. Besides, if the electrical bias is frequency modulated, we show that lifetime measurements can be performed on the cross-section of epi-Si solar cells and can help detect limiting interfaces and layers. Then, we study the influence of illumination on KPFM and CP-AFM measurements. We perform photovoltage and photocurrent measurements on the cross-section of epi-Si solar under different values of illumination intensity and illumination wavelength. We show a good sensitivity of KPFM measurements to illumination. However, we show that measurements for different wavelengths at a given open circuit voltage, are not correlated with the internal quantum efficiency, as we could have expected.Finally, we summarize our work in a table showing the impact of strengths and weaknesses of the techniques for the different measurements highlighted. From this table, we imagine an “ideal” microscopy setup to investigate crystalline silicon solar cells in a reliable, versatile and accurate way. We propose investigations of interest that could be carried out using this “ideal” setup.
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Paul Narchi. Investigation of crystalline silicon solar cells at the nano-scale using scanning probe microscopy techniques. Micro and nanotechnologies/Microelectronics. Université Paris-Saclay, 2016. English. ⟨NNT : 2016SACLX085⟩. ⟨tel-01495706⟩

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