We examine the effectiveness of hydrogen passivation as a function of defect type and microstructure at grain boundaries (GBs) in multicrystalline silicon. We analyze a solar cell with alternating mm-wide bare and SiNx-coated stripes using laser-beam-induced current, electron backscatter diffraction, X-ray fluorescence microscopy, and defect etching to correlate pre- and post-hydrogenation recombination activity with GB character, density of iron-silicide nanoprecipitates, and dislocations. A strong correlation was found between GB recombination activity and the nature/density of etch pits along the boundaries, while iron silicide precipitates above detection limits were found to play a less significant role. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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