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Design, fabrication, and analysis of crystalline Si-SiGe heterostructure thin-film solar cells

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7 Author(s)

One possible method to improve the efficiency of crystalline silicon (Si) solar cells is by alloying with germanium (Ge). Although the improved absorption of the alloy leads to a gain in the current, the reduction of the alloy bandgap causes a loss in voltage, which overrides the increased current of the SiGe-alloy solar cell. There has been a number of theoretical studies to circumvent this behavior. However, to date there has been no detailed study, which discusses the technological implementation of these concepts in solar cells. In this paper, the design issues of crystalline Si-SiGe heterostructure will be dealt with in an attempt to reduce the effect of the increased dark current of the alloyed cells, while at the same time sustaining the enhancement in the current. The enhanced back surface field at the back p+-Si/p-SiGe interface reduces the base component of the recombination current of the heterostructure cell if recombination caused by dislocations is neglected. A higher infrared (IR) response which results in a higher short-circuit current (2 mA/cm2 higher than a reference Si cell) has been recorded for the Si-Si0.9 Ge0.1-thin-film structure of 15 μm thickness. The reduction in dark saturation current which has been predicted based on the theoretical calculations could not be realized in the heterostructure SiGe/Si cell due to the degradation effect of the misfit dislocations that decreases the bulk lifetime, and increases the interface recombination velocity. In a structure which contains a p+-SiGe buffer layer, an efficiency of 12.5% is achieved for a SiGe cell with 15 μm thickness without texturing or optical confinement, which is about the same as the Si reference cell with equal active thickness, but with a higher short-circuit current. These results, for the first time, experimentally prove that alloying with Ge offers a higher current and might have a room for improving the efficiency of the multijunction solar cells or dual bandgap cells when SiGe is used to convert the IR-part of the spectrum

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IEEE Transactions on Electron Devices  (Volume:46 ,  Issue: 10 )