Date of Award

Fall 2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Applied Science (MASc)

Department

Engineering Physics

Supervisor

Rafael Kleiman

Language

English

Abstract

The photovoltaics (PV) research community is currently pursuing many approaches to reduce the cost of PV and increase the energy conversion efficiency. Single-crystalline silicon (sc-Si) solar cells are able to achieve high efficiency but have a higher cost relative to other technologies. It may be possible to drastically reduce the cost of sc-Si PV by fabricating solar cells which are an order of magnitude thinner than conventional solar cells, i.e. thinner than 30 microns. Aside from new fabrication paradigms, ultra-thin sc-Si solar cells require advanced light-trapping techniques to enhance the absorption of long-wave radiation which is otherwise transmitted through the cell. In this thesis, a novel process flow for the fabrication of ultra-thin sc-Si solar cells in the laboratory was designed and implemented with the aim of testing light-trapping structures in the context of actual ultra-thin sc-Si devices. The process flow uses 10 micron thick sc-Si membranes, 0.95 cm in diameter, fabricated on silicon-on-insulator wafers using double-sided processing. The best fabricated device incorporated a back surface field, a white paint diffuse rear reflector and a silicon nitride antireflection coating. It achieved a fill factor, efficiency, short circuit current and open circuit voltage of 0.67, 9.9%, 27.9 mA cm-2 and 0.53 V respectively. Simulations suggest the device efficiency can approach 15.4% without light-trapping and 16.5% with a diffuse rear reflector as a light trapping structure. This process flow is intended to be used as a platform on which to test further light-trapping structures with the continuation of this project.

McMaster University Library

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