Understanding and Development of Manufacturable Screen-Printed Contacts on High Sheet-Resistance Emitters for Low-Cost Silicon Solar Cells
Hilali, Mohamed M.
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A simple cost-effective approach was proposed and successfully employed to fabricate high-quality screen-printed (SP) contacts to high sheet-resistance emitters (100 ohm/sq) to improve the Si solar cell efficiency. Device modeling was used to quantify the performance enhancement possible from the high sheet-resistance emitter for various cell designs. It was found that for performance enhancement from the high sheet-resistance emitter, certain cell design criteria must be satisfied. Model calculations showed that in order to achieve any performance enhancement over the conventional ~40 ohm/sq emitter, the high sheet resistance emitter solar cell must have a reasonably good (120,000 cm/s) or low front-surface recombination velocity (FSRV). Model calculations were also performed to establish requirements for high fill factors (FFs). The results showed that the series resistance should be less than 0.8 ohm-cm^2, the shunt resistance should be greater than 1000 ohm-cm^2, and the junction leakage current should be less than 25 nA/cm^2. Analytical microscopy and surface analysis techniques were used to study the Ag-Si contact interface of different SP Ag pastes. Physical and electrical properties of SP Ag thick-film contacts were studied and correlated to understand and achieve good-quality ohmic contacts to high sheet-resistance emitters for solar cells. This information was then used to define the criteria for high-quality screen-printed contacts. The role of paste constituents and firing scheme on contact quality were investigated to tailor the high-quality screen-printed contact interface structure that results in high performance solar cells. Results indicated that small particle size, high glass transition temperature, rapid firing and less aggressive glass frit help in producing high-quality contacts. Based on these results high-quality SP contacts with high FFs0.78 on high sheet-resistance emitters were achieved for the first time using a simple single-step firing process. This technology was applied to different substrates (monocrystalline and multicrystalline) and surfaces (textured and planar). Cell efficiencies of ~16.2% on low-cost EFG ribbon substrates were achieved on high sheet-resistance emitters with SP contacts. A record high-efficiency SP solar cell of 19% with textured high sheet-resistance emitter was also fabricated and modeled.