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Keywords:

  • texture;
  • reflection distribution;
  • optics;
  • ray tracing;
  • antireflection coating

ABSTRACT

A common misconception is that alkaline textured silicon solar cell surfaces are characterised by features that are pyramidal and bounded by {111} planes. In preference to the typical approach of observing scanning electron microscope images, we analyse reflection distributions from various pyramidal textures and find that {111} faceted pyramids are a poor approximation to the features on such surfaces. We conclude that features are hillocks, with an octagonal base. Furthermore, the characteristic base angle of the texture depends on the etchant and is closer to 50–52° than the commonly accepted value of 54.74°. Analyses of antireflection, light trapping, photogeneration and surface recombination properties of textured surfaces should take this feature morphology into account. The base angle has a strong influence on the hemispherical reflectance of the textured surface, with higher angles resulting in reduced reflectance. The influence of this reflection enhancement upon device performance is smallest when an optimised antireflection coating is applied; compared with an array of {111} faceted pyramids, a hillock morphology with 50° base angle results in a 0.2% reduction in photogenerated current in a typical cell. Additionally, as base angle is reduced, an encapsulant of increasingly higher refractive index is required to drive internal reflection at the air–glass interface of light initially reflected from the cell surface. The development of texturing processes resulting in higher base angles is encouraged. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.