Nanometer scale point contacting techniques for silicon Photovoltaic devices

Abstract : The use of point contacts has made the Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell design one of the most efficient monocrystalline-silicon photovoltaic cell designs in production. The main feature of such solar cell is that the rear surface is partially contacted by periodic openings in a dielectric film that provides surface passivation. However, a trade-off between ohmic losses and surface recombination is found. Due to the technology used to locally open the contacts in the passivation layer, the distance between neighboring contacts is on the order of hundreds of microns, introducing a significant series resistance.In this work, I explore the possibility and potential advantages of using nanoscale contact openings with a pitch between 300 nm to 10 µm. Analytic and numerical simulations done during the course of this thesis have shown that such nanoscale contacts would result in negligible ohmic losses while still keeping the surface recombination velocity Seff,rear at an acceptable level, as long as the recombination velocity at the contact (Scont) is in the range from 103-105 cm/s. To achieve such contacts in a potentially cost-reducing way, my experimental work has focused on the use of polystyrene nanospheres as a sacrificial mask.The thesis is therefore divided into three sections. The first section develops and explores processes to enable the formation of such contacts using various nanosphere dispersion, thin-film deposition, and layer etching processes. The second section describes a test device using a thin-film amorphous silicon NIP diode to explore the electrical properties of the point contacts. Finally, the third section considers the application of such point contacts on crystalline silicon by exploring localized doping through the nanoholes formed.In the first section, I have explored using polystyrene nanoparticles (NPs) as a patterning mask. The first two tested NPs deposition techniques (spray-coating, spin-coating) give poorly controlled distributions of nanospheres on the surface, but with very low values of coverage. The third tested NPs deposition technique (floating transfer technique) provided a closely-packed monolayer of NPs on the surface; this process was more repeatable but necessitated an additional O2 plasma step to reduce the coverage area of the sphere. This was performed using matrix distributed electron cyclotron resonance (MD-ECR) in order to etch the NPs by performing a detailed study.The NPs have been used in two ways; by using them as a direct deposition mask or by depositing a secondary etching mask layer on top of them.In the second section of this thesis, I have tested the nanoholes as electrical point-contacts in thin-film a-Si:H devices. For low-diffusion length technologies such as thin-film silicon, the distance between contacts must be in the order of few hundred nanometers. Using spin coated 100 nm NPs of polystyrene as a sacrificial deposition mask, I could form randomly spaced contacts with an average spacing of a few hundred nanometers. A set of NIP a-Si:H solar cells, using RF-PECVD, have been deposited on the back reflector substrates formed with metallic layers covered with dielectrics having nanoholes. Their electrical characteristics were compared to the same cells done with and without a complete dielectric layer. These structures allowed me to verify that good electrical contact through the nanoholes was possible, but no enhanced performance was observed.In the third section of this thesis, I investigate the use of such nanoholes in crystalline silicon technology by the formation of passivated contacts through the nanoholes. Boron doping by both thermal diffusion and ion implantation techniques were investigated. A thermally grown oxide layer with holes was used as the doping barrier. These samples were characterized, after removing the oxide layer, by secondary electron microscopy (SEM) and conductive probe atomic force microscopy (CP-AFM).
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Rasha Khoury. Nanometer scale point contacting techniques for silicon Photovoltaic devices. Micro and nanotechnologies/Microelectronics. Université Paris-Saclay, 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017SACLX070⟩. ⟨tel-01686531⟩

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