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Keywords:

  • thin-film silicon;
  • solar cells;
  • a-Si:H/µc-Si:H;
  • PECVD;
  • doped silicon oxide;
  • light management

ABSTRACT

A good light trapping scheme is necessary to improve the performance of amorphous/microcrystalline silicon tandem cells. This is generally achieved by using a highly reflective transparent conducting oxide/metal back contact plus an intermediate reflector between the component cells. In this work, the use of doped silicon oxide as alternative n-layer in micromorph solar cells is proposed as a means to obtain high current values using a simple Ag back contact and no extra reflector between the component cells n-doped silicon oxide layers with a wide range of optical and electrical properties have been prepared. The influence of different deposition regimes on the material properties has been studied. The main findings are the following: (i) when carbon dioxide is added to the gas mixture, sufficiently high hydrogen dilution is necessary to widen the transition region from highly conductive microcrystalline-like films to amorphous material characterized by low electrical conductivity; (ii) lower refractive index values are found with lower deposition pressure. Optimal n-doped silicon oxide layers have been used in both component cells of micromorph devices, adopting a simple Ag back contact. Higher current values for both cells are obtained in comparison with the values obtained using standard n-doped microcrystalline silicon, whereas similar values of fill factor and open circuit voltage are measured. The current enhancement is particularly evident for the bottom cell, as revealed by the increased spectral response in the red/infrared region. The results prove the high potential of n-doped silicon oxide as ideal reflector for thin-film silicon solar cells. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.