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Title: Production of polycrystalline silicon thin films on foreign substrates using electron cyclotron resonance plasma enhanced chemical vapour deposition
Author: Summers, Scott.
Awarding Body: South Bank University
Current Institution: London South Bank University
Date of Award: 2003
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The wide spread adoption of solar photovoltaic cells is impeded by a number of factors, the primary one of which is the cost. The technology behind the most used cells today is based on bulk single crystalline silicon wafers. These wafers subsequently undergo numerous processesto produce a finished module capableo f delivering usable direct current electricity. Even with all these processes, the single biggest contributor to production costs is the starting wafer - estimated to account for some 50% of manufacturing costs. Removing these costs by replacing the wafer is the leading topic in solar cell research today. Glass is the most convenient starting point for replacing silicon wafers - it is benign, both from an environmental and manufacturing viewpoint, and is considerably less expensive than silicon wafers for a given quantity. As an amorphous material, glass is well suited to acting as a substrate for amorphous silicon layers used in low cost cells. Amorphous silicon cells suffer from stability issues and can degrade in performance substantially over the operational lifetime of the solar cell. To overcomethese problems the amorphous silicon can be replaced with crystalline silicon material. Generally, the deposition of suitable crystalline material occurs at a temperature in excess of the softening point of glass. So however useful glass is as a substrate it is incompatible with simple, low temperature formation of crystalline silicon using most techniques. There are two outstanding issues relating to the manufacture of thin film silicon solar cells that have been researched for this thesis. One is the deposition of silicon layers at a growth rate high enough to allow for a reasonable throughput of material. The second is the production of material suited to the task i.e. structurally and electrically. In this thesis the direct deposition of high quality polycrystalline silicon( near-single orientation with suitable electrical characteristics) using electron cyclotron resonance plasma enhanced chemical vapour deposition(E CR PECVD) onto glass is demonstrated. A new visualisation of the magnetic field used in E R PECVD has given an insight into the optimisation of the deposition process using this technique. By adjusting the magnetic field appropriately, an increase in growth rate for deposition of polycrystalline silicon of 2- 25 times that reported in the literature was found. In addition to the characterisation of the deposited material, the process parameters have been fully investigated by analysing the process plasma characteristics using a Langmuir probe. An amorphous incubation layer 1 micron thick is seen when the polycrystalline material is deposited directly on glass, however this layer can be substantially reduced by depositing on a thin layer of silicon (on the glass) which has been crystallised by excimer laser irradiation. This indicatesa possible direction in combining these two approaches in future manufacturing processes for the growth of low-temperature polycrystalline silicon layers on glass to form photovoltaic devices.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Solar photovoltaic cells