Spherical Silicon Photovoltaics: Material Characterization and Novel Device Structure
Cheng, Cherry Yee Yan
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Single crystalline silicon spheres have been used as alternative material for solar cell fabrication. This innovative technology has several advantages over traditional wafer technology. However, the material, process flow and characterization techniques are very different from the planar technology due to the spherical geometry. In material characterization, microwave photoconductivity decay is used to measure carrier lifetime. This technique is analyzed theoretically by mathematical treatment in this thesis. Furthermore, the carrier lifetime is measured in order to investigate rapid thermal grown oxide quality in the role of surface passivation of silicon sphere. A traditional way of making spherical cells is to create a p-n junction by high temperature diffusion of phosphorous dopants into p-type silicon spheres. To further reduce the fabrication cost, a low temperature epitaxial film highly doped with phosphorous is deposited on the sphere surface to form an emitter layer using Plasma Enhanced Chemical Vapour Deposition (PECVD). The process flow of device fabrication is very different from silicon wafer thus a new set of process steps are derived for silicon spheres. Two main device structures, omission of insulating layer and silicon nitride as insulating layer between emitter film and substrate, are proposed. The deposition parameters, pressure, power, and deposition time are optimized for spherical geometry. The quality of the junction is evaluated by its current-voltage characteristic and capacitance-voltage characteristic. The results are also compared to similar device structures in planar technology. To examine the photovoltaic performance, illuminated current-voltage measurement is taken to provide information on short circuit current, open circuit voltage and fill factor. Furthermore, spectral response of quantum efficiency is investigated to assess the ability of carrier collection for a spectrum of wavelength. Limitations on spherical diode performance are concluded from the measurement results.