Ripples Formation on the Silicon Solar Cells Surface ...

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characteristics in dark and under illumination by a 5000 K Xenon lamp. ... carrier collection efficiency in short wavelength spectral range and increasing light.


Proceedings of 9th International Conference ITELMS’2014

Ripples Formation on the Silicon Solar Cells Surface by Laser Irradiation E. Shatkovskis, V. Zagadskij, A. Jukna, J. Stupakova Department of Physics, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, Sauletekio al. 11, LT-10223, Vilnius, Lithuania Abstract The surface and electric properties of the monocrystalline silicon solar cell treated by means of focused light from a 20-ns-pulsed YAG:Nd3+ laser (l = 1.064 mm) at repetition rate of 12.5 Hz have been investigated. The laser beam was focused down to spot size of 1.2 ´ 0.04 mm2 by means of optical condenser consisting of spherical and cylindrical lenses onto surface of the solar cell in the area between two nearest contacts of the contact grid. Optical beam power was used in a sequence of 0.14 mW, 0.35 mW, 0.44 mW, 0.48 mW, 0.52 mW and 0.76 mW. The reference and laser treated samples cut from a single solar cell have been investigated experimentally by measuring current-voltage characteristics in dark and under illumination by a 5000 K Xenon lamp. Laser fluence greater than 4.5 mW/mm2 per pulse forms ripples on the sample surface along the length of the laser beam spot and repetitive along the beam scanning directions. The results of our electric measurements and images taken by optical microscope are presented and discussed. KEYWORDS: silicon solar cells, laser processing, ripples formation, current-voltage characteristics. 1. Introduction Solar photovoltaic is one of the most important renewable energy sources in terms of globally installed capacity. The 102 GW installed capacity has been achieved in 2012 [1]. The advantages of photovoltaic become especially promised when talking about Building-Integrated Photovoltaic [2] which is one of the latest developments of photovoltaic technology to ensure green energy. Crystalline silicon based solar cells still play a major role in the solar cells market. Considerable progress has been achieved in improving silicon solar cells technology increasing their efficiency. Laboratory-derived silicon solar cell efficiency of energy conversion is about 25 % however the efficiency of industrial solar cells does not exceed 20% [3]. Theoretical limit of the conversion efficiency for crystalline silicon solar cells is considered to be at 31 % [4]. The goal of research and development of the silicon solar cells is to reach mentioned theoretical limit and make solar cells more competitive with other existing sources of renewable energy. An increase of energy conversion efficiency of the silicon solar cells can be reached by reducing their surface reflectivity, increasing minority carrier collection efficiency in short wavelength spectral range and increasing light absorbance of photon energies near the silicon band-gap energy by means of surface texturing. Silicon surface processing by means of ultra-short laser pulses [5-8] is one of the most efficient methods for decreasing reflectivity and increasing of absorbance of silicon solar cells. Operating with femtosecond or picosecond optical pulses one can expect a minimal influence of such processes as heat propagation through the planar p-n junction and recrystallization of heated material while it interacts with incident light. However, as it was shown in Ref. 9, the processing of surface of silicon (or other semiconductors) by means of nanosecond-optical-pulses enables to obtain surface structures in which quantum confinement effect has been observed [9]. The main purpose of our experiments is to demonstrate effect of nanosecond optical pulses incident onto surface of a silicon solar cell. For samples processing we used a pulsed YAG:Nd3+ laser, with pulse duration at FWHM around 20 ns at 12.5 Hz repetition rate of pulses. The results of measurements of surface morphology, of efficiency of energy conversion and of electrical properties of laser modified solar cells are discussed in current work. 2. Experiment The silicon solar cells for our experiments were manufactured out of p-type, 200-μm-thick mono-crystalline silicon (100) wafer. The front surface of the solar cell was textured in the form of the regular inverse pyramids with facets and depth dimensions about of about 5 μm. The 0.25 ÷ 0.3 μm thick, n-type silicon emitter was made by means of phosphorus diffusion procedure. Continuous lower and the grid upper contacts were manufactured by room temperature sputtering of silver in a vacuum chamber. Finally, surface of the cell was protected by silicon nitride layer, which thickness was tens of nanometers. For laser treatment procedures, a selected solar cell was cut into samples. Each sample contained bottom contact, two stripes of contact grid on its top surface and optically active area for energy conversion of 20 mm2 in between them. Pulsed YAG:Nd3+ laser with pulse duration at FWHM of 20 ns and repetition rate of pulse at 12.5 Hz has been used for surface of each sample processing. The laser beam power was controlled by changing both the YAG:Nd3+ excitation as well as neutral optical filters. This combination has allowed us to fairly small steps precisely controlling averaged output power of laser at 0.14 mW, 0.35 mW, 0.44 mW, 0.48 mW, 0.52 mW and 0.76 mW. The

218 laser beam was focused by optical condenser consisting of spherical and cylindrical lenses into area between two stripes of contact grids. Thus, the spot of the laser beam had a shape of the ~1.2 mm-long and ~40 µm-wide stretched rectangular with approximate area of ~0.05 mm2. Each sample was mounted onto X-Y stage which moves the sample perpendicularly to the laser beam using a computer controlled stepping motor. The sample’s position changing rate was adjusted by stepping motor so that the solar cell areas processed by adjacent pulses overlap no more than one third of beam’s spot area. The current-voltage characteristics of reference (i.e. no processed by the laser) and treated by laser beam samples were measured in dark and illuminating the sample by Xenon lamp which emits light of 5000 K black-bodyradiation spectrum. A computer controlled setup consisting of Tektronix CFG 253, Kethley 2000, Metex MXD 4660 multimeters and Tektronix TDS 3032B oscilloscope has been used for experimental data registration. 3. Results and Discussion The optical microscope images of surfaces of the reference and modified solar cells are presented in Fig. 1. According to our estimations a surface texture of the reference sample contains pyramids with average height of 5 μm (Fig. 1a).




Fig. 1. Optical-microscope image of the top surface of reference sample (a) and of the sample after its laser treatment using beam’s power of 0.35 mW and 0.6 for the cases (b) and (c), respectively The image shown in Fig. 1b of the surface modified by means of moderate power P ~ 35 mW of laser beam shows the ripples (waves) formed along the entire length of the laser spot, and repetitive along beam’s scanning direction. Interaction of laser irradiation with material induced damages of the cell’s surface which were estimated to have a shape of inverted pyramids with a density much lower than that one observed onto surface of reference sample (Fig. 1a). A precise investigation of the surface images let us to estimate the distance between nearest ripples at 23 ¸ 25 μm. The third part of the image (Fig. 1c) shows the surface of the sample which has been exposed to 0.6 mW power of the laser beam. The figure shows that laser beam modified uniformly surface of the solar cell. The ripples in the images of solar cells are not visible. Fig. 2 represents the results of the solar cell current-voltage characteristics. The figure contains the currentvoltage characteristics of the reference sample and, for comparison, the same characteristics after laser treatment of sample. The figure has four parts a, b, c, and d belonging to 0.14 mW, 0.35 mW, 0.44 mW and 0.52 mW laser beam power, correspondingly. The current-voltage characteristics of all the samples were measured in the dark and under illumination by Xenon lamp of 15 klx and 44 klx luminous. Fig. 2a shows the current-voltage characteristics of the same sample after treatment at laser beam power of 0.14 mW. The observed current-voltage characteristic completely overlaps the characteristic of the reference sample. One can admit that such laser-fluence is too weak to induce the technological changes in the silicon solar cell material. Needs noting that optical microscope image of the surface also shows no changes of sample surface and fully meets a surface of the reference sample, which is shown in Fig. 1a. Fig. 2b demonstrates the current-voltage characteristics of identical sample after its laser treatment at laser beam power of 0.35 mW. The characteristics are similar to those ones of reference sample represented in Fig. 1a, as all the samples were cut out from the single wafer of a solar cell. Meanwhile, after the laser treatment of solar cell, its current-voltage characteristics have changed significantly. Our result correlates well with the previously discussed results of changes of the solar cell’s surface. At increased laser power of 0.44 and 0.52 mW the current-voltage characteristics of laser treated samples drastically changed if compare ones with the same characteristics of reference sample. As it is shown in Fig. 2c and 2d at laser power greater than 0.4 mW the nonlinear current-voltage dependences transfer in to almost linear and samples with p-n junction turns into simple resistors with almost linear current voltage characteristic and resistance almost independent on experimental conditions. Thus, according to our estimations laser fluence equal or greater than 4.5 mW/mm2 can affect irreversible changes of structure and electric characteristics of the solar cell, i.e. distortion of its






Fig. 2. Current-voltage characteristics of solar cell samples: 1, 1´- in the dark; 2, 2´- at 15 klx luminous; 3, 3´- at 44 klx luminous; 1, 2, 3, - reference sample, 1´, 2´-, 3´- after laser treatment at laser beam powers of 0.14 mW (a), 0.35 mW (b), 0.44 mW (c), 0.52 mW (d) p-n junction and disappearance of nonlinear current-voltage dependence. Again, this result correlates with the surface images shown in Fig. 1. The equivalent scheme of the solar cell consists of current source, diode, Rsh – shunt resistance and Rs – series resistance. Accordingly, the current (I)-voltage (V) characteristic can be expressed in terms of [10]: I = Iph - I0{ exp [ e(V – IRs)/AkT] – 1} –V/Rsh


where Iph is the photocurrent; e is the electron charge; k is Boltzmann’s constant; T is the absolute temperature; A is the constant which can get values in range between 1 and 5. In accordance with the expression (1) and experimentally measured current-voltage dependences one can calculate the shunt resistance Rsh , series resistance Rs , the short-circuit-current Isc , and the open-circuit-voltage Voc in any chosen segment of the current-voltage characteristic. Assuming above mentioned arguments, we calculated the parameters of the reference and laser treated solar cell samples. A summary of these results at relevant laser beam power in range below 0.52 mW is presented in Table 1. The data have been obtained at 44 klx luminous of the solar cell. Table 1 A summary of calculated results of reference and laser treated samples at various power of laser beam Laser beam average power P, mW Shunt resistance Rsh , Ohm Open circuit voltage Voc , mV Short circuit current Isc , mA

0 ~ 105 600 17

0.14 ~ 105 600 17

0.35 ~ 102 200 15

0.44 80 200 10

0.52 13 50 7

Thus, when reviewing the results, needs mentioning that laser treatment of surface of textured silicon solar cell at laser fluences below 4.5 mW/mm2/ pulse does not evoke any noticeable changes of its surface and does not

220 drastically change its electric characteristics. However, at laser fluences above 4.5 mW/mm2/pulse value, the light interaction with silicon material results in appearance of surface ripples and changes of texture map of the solar cell. Accordingly, changes in the solar cell parameters occurs in undesirable way decreasing values of the shunt resistance Rsh (see Table 1), open circuit voltage Voc , and the short circuit Isc . To use effectively a nanosecond pulsed laser for modification of surface structure of the solar cells needs to control precisely the laser fluence and operate the laser at average fluencies less or equal to 7 mW/mm2. Needs adding that the modified at stronger laser fluencies surface of the solar cell is subject to faster degradation varying outdoor humidity and temperature. The degradation of the laser treated silicon solar cells is subject for our further investigations. 4. Conclusions In conclusions, it is experimentally demonstrated that exposure of monocrystalline silicon solar cell with textured surface to pulsed-laser irradiation of nanosecond duration can cause distortion of the surface and changes of its electric properties. The effect on laser treated silicon surface can be controlled by choosing optimal average laser fluence below 7 mW/mm2 per pulse. At more intensive laser fluencies per pulse the light interaction with material affects irreversible changes of the silicon surface and undesirable changes of electrical properties of the solar cell. Most probably, a fully controllable modification of the surface of a solar cell can be performed by applying a regime of multiple scanning of the surface. It takes longer time to have surface modification, however it saves p-n junction from undesirable heat propagation through the sample and material’s distortion. However, these experiments are still in progress. Acknowledgement This work was partly supported by the project VP1-3.1-ŠMM-08-K-01-009 of the National Programme “An improvement of the skills of researchers” launched by the Lithuanian Ministry of Education and Science. References 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

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