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Title: Influence of the p-type layer on the performance and stability of thin film silicon solar cells
Author: Corpus Mendoza, Asiel Neftali
ISNI:       0000 0004 6062 6363
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2017
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The poor lateral conductance of amorphous silicon necessitates the use of a contact covering the entire surface of thin film silicon solar cells to minimise the resistance. This contact must be highly conductive, as well as transparent to allow absorption of light in the inner layers. In recent years this has paved way for transparent conducting oxides (TCOs) to be used in solar technology. However, the absence of a p-type TCO complicates the fabrication of an Ohmic contact to a-Si:H(p). Moreover, the difference in bandgap between the two materials results in a Schottky interface which has not been investigated comprehensively in terms of on-state/optical performance and stability before. This thesis describes the physics of thin film silicon solar cells and their Schottky interface with zinc oxide (ZnO). Here, current-voltage-temperature (I-V-T) measurements and computer simulations are used in order to evaluate the Schottky barrier height of ZnO/a-Si:H(p) and ZnO/μc-Si:H(p) heterojunctions. It is observed that a high doping concentration of the p-layer can reduce the effective Schottky barrier height by increasing the tunnelling transport mechanism at the interface. The same heterojunctions are also tested in ZnO/p-layer/a-Si:H(i)/a-Si:H(n)/ZnO/Ag solar cells. It is found that despite the superior electrical properties of the ZnO/μc-Si:H(p) contact compared to the ZnO/a-Si:H contact, an improved performance is observed in cells using the latter. This contradictory result is explained by a misalignment of the energy bands at the μc-Si:H(p)/a-Si:H(i) interface. This reduces the open circuit voltage (VOC) of the cell in comparison to the a-Si:H(p)/a-Si:H(i) structure. These results lead to the theory behind optimization of a mixed μc-Si:H(p)/a-Si:H(p) window layer that can overcome the Schottky interface without compromising the p-layer/a-Si:H(i) interface. Further, the conventional equivalent electronic circuit of a solar cell is expanded with a Schottky diode in series that represents the non-ideal contact. The analysis of this equivalent circuit shows that non-ideal metal/semiconductor contacts for solar cells can be approximated as Ohmic when they show a Schottky barrier lower than 0.5 eV. Also, the same model allows to distinguish the sections of the cell that degrade during light exposure and current injection. It is observed that all of the solar cells analysed here show a reduction of their VOC, short circuit current (JSC) and fill factor (FF) as a function of time when soaked with 1 Sun light, whereas the fully a-Si:H solar cells show a simultaneous increase of VOC, a decrease of FF, and a minimal decrease of JSC as a function of time when injected with a constant current of 10 mA in the dark. Increase in recombination in the absorption layer of the cell during light exposure can be detected by an increase of the ideality factor (m) of the main junction. On the other hand, the ideality factor (n) of the Schottky junction decreases after current injection. This indicates a detrimental effect on the tunnelling transport mechanism at the contact. Computer simulations reveal that the decrease of n is the result of a change in the a-Si:H(p) hole concentration and doping profile due to the excess of electrons injected during stress. This degradation of the Schottky interface is not observed when μc-Si:H(p) is used as the p-layer. This thesis demonstrates that a complete understanding of degradation of the I-V characteristics of an a-Si:H solar cell can only be achieved when all transport mechanisms of a Schottky contact are considered.
Supervisor: De Souza, Maria Merlyne ; Hamelmann, Frank Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available