Research Article | Open Access
Effects of the Boron-Doped p+ Emitter on the Efficiency of the n-Type Silicon Solar Cell
The optimum structure of the p+ emitter for the n-type silicon solar cell was determined with the simulation of the boron doping concentration. The boron concentration () in the p+ emitter was varied in the range of and atoms/cm3 while maintaining the base doping concentration at atoms/cm3. With the increase of the boron concentration, the open circuit voltage () of the cell increased up to 0.525 V and then was nearly saturated at atoms/cm3. On the other hand, the short circuit current density () began to decrease at atoms/cm3 due to the increase of the surface recombination loss, and without considering the variation of the contact resistance along the emitter doping level, the maximum efficiency of the cell was obtained at around atoms/cm3. While the contact resistance of the electrode decreases with the increase of the doping concentration in the p+ emitter, and with consideration of the variation of the contact resistance, the optimum value of for maximum efficiency shifted to the higher doping level.
Currently, the p-type silicon solar cell comprises a large portion of the industrial solar cells. On the other hand, the n-type silicon solar cell has been known to have many advantages and has subsequently received a great deal of attention and has become one of the main development topics in PV industries. Crystalline silicon solar cell using the n-type wafer showed the highest efficiency record among commercial silicon solar cells . The n-type wafer has a longer diffusion length than the p-type wafer as a result of a higher tolerance to common transition metal impurities [2, 3]. Also, it does not contain any boron-oxide pairs, which are considered as the origin of light-induced degradation (LID) in the p-type Si wafer . Thus, the performance of the n-type silicon solar cell can almost be maintained without degradation during the illumination of light. Furthermore, since the doping profile of boron is more similar to the theoretical model than that of phosphorous, the application of simulation to the real emitter diffusion process is more suitable for the n-type Si wafer.
In spite of the definite advantages of n-type silicon, p-type silicon comprises 85% of industrial silicon solar cells. Historically, research and process infrastructure have been mainly developed for p-type silicon solar cells, which are essential to make economical and high-efficient commercial solar cells.
In order to realize a p+ emitter on n-type silicon wafer, three kinds of methods are usually applied: (i) boron-diffused emitter, (ii) Al-alloyed emitter, and (iii) heterojunction using p-type a-Si . Among these methods, the boron-diffused emitter is most similar to the phosphorus-diffused emitter of the conventional p+ silicon solar cell. But, in the case of the diffusion of boron, a noticeable gettering effect was not shown compared with the diffusion of phosphorus. And BSG (boron silicate glass), which is formed during boron diffusion [6, 7], is not completely removed by chemical solution (usually HF), while it is easy to remove PSG (phosphorus silicate glass) using HF solution.
In this study, the structure of the p+ emitter doped with boron was optimized for the n-type silicon solar cell. The performance of the solar cell was simulated varying the contact resistance of the electrode and the doping concentration of boron.
2. Simulation Scheme
The Silvaco TCAD tool, which is commonly used for the simulation of semiconductor devices, was used to simulate and optimize the emitter structure for the n-type silicon solar cell. During the simulation, an n-type crystalline silicon wafer with an orientation of (100) was chosen and the base doping concentration of phosphorus was set to atoms/cm3. The p+ emitter was formed diffusing the boron into the silicon at 900°C for 10 min varying the boron concentration , and silver was used for electrode materials on the front and rear surfaces. Figure 1 shows the structure of the n-type silicon solar cell used in this simulation.
The width and the height of the simulation region in Figure 1 were 120 and 1200 μm, respectively, and the default depth of the simulation region was 1 μm. The centers of the front electrodes with widths of 100 μm were spaced out 600 μm apart.
The diffusion models describe how dopants and defects in the silicon redistribute themselves during thermal treatment, due to concentration gradients and internal electric fields. When modeling the actual diffusion process, there are additional effects to consider such as impurity clustering, activation, and how interfaces are treated . In this study, the diffusion of the boron was simulated using the advanced diffusion model developed at CNRS-Phase (Strasbourg, France), CEA-LETI (Grenoble, France), and Silvaco . Basically, the dopants and the point defects move in the silicon along the following diffusion equation : where is the total impurity concentration, is the source and sink terms, and is the flux of mobile particle as In the above equation, is the mobile impurity concentration, is the diffusivity of the impurity, is the mobility, and is the electric field.
Generally, the shallow emitter shows low surface recombination and good blue response at the short wavelength region, but the metal contact on the front surface is ready to show high resistance. To decrease the contact resistance, the emitter should be doped heavily with the doping materials . Firstly, assuming the contact resistance, , as zero, the boron concentration, , in the p+ emitter was varied in the range of atoms/cm3. In the second simulation, the contact resistance was varied in the range of 0–0.5 Ωcm2, fixing the concentration of boron at atoms/cm3. Finally, two parameters, and , were simultaneously considered, and the output parameters of the cell were compared with the former results.
3. Results and Discussion
3.1. Dependence of the Cell Parameters on NB
Figure 2 shows the dependence of the output parameters of the cell on the boron concentration, . The in the p+ emitter was varied in the range of atoms/cm3, and the contact resistance was assumed to be zero. With the increase of , the open circuit voltage, , of the cell increased as well and saturated at atoms/cm3. Meanwhile, the short circuit current density, , began to decrease at atoms/cm3. The increase of the doping concentration in the p+ emitter may cause an increase in the carrier density and a decrease of the quasi-fermi level of the hole, which resulted in the increase of the . However, since heavy doping can also bring about an increase in recombination loss in the emitter region, was saturated at atoms/cm3. Also, the increase of recombination loss of the light-induced carrier meant the decrease of at atoms/cm3. Consequently, the efficiency of the cell showed a maximum value of atoms/cm3.
In order to confirm the recombination loss in the emitter region for the high doping concentration of boron, internal quantum efficiency (IQE) of the cell was calculated along the as shown in Figure 3. In the short wavelength range, IQE rapidly decreased at atoms/cm3, while there was no significant difference in the long wavelength range. This means that the recombination loss occurred at the front emitter region and is closely related to the decrease of the , as mentioned above.
3.2. Effect of the Contact Resistance
Though the surface recombination loss increases with the increase of , conventional cell generally employs a heavily doped emitter that provides low contact resistance of the front electrode. On the other hand, the shallow emitter shows a low surface recombination loss and a good blue response of the cell at the short wavelength region, but a high contact resistance.
Figure 4 shows the output parameters of the cell along the contact resistance of the front electrode fixing the boron concentration at atoms/cm3 in the emitter region. The fill factor of the cell was most affected by the contact resistance, as expected. and were slightly dependent on the contact resistance in such a way that decreased but increased with the increase of the contact resistance. The behavior of could be understood from the decrease of the remanent carrier concentration in the emitter region for low contact resistance. Finally, the efficiency of the cell increased with the decrease of the contact resistance.
3.3. Dependence of Cell Parameters on NB Including Contact Resistance
There are several factors determining the contact resistance of the crystalline silicon solar cell, such as the area and the quality of the metal electrode, the sheet resistance of the front surface of the cell, and the interface between the electrode and the silicon. Only the sheet resistance was considered to vary the contact resistance in this study. From the simulation, the sheet resistance of the n-type crystalline silicon wafer was identified along the doping concentration of boron, as shown in Figure 5. The contact resistance used in this simulation is shown in Table 1 .
Figure 6 shows the output parameters of the cell along the doping concentration of boron in the case of considering the effects of the contact resistance. The overall behaviors of and were nearly similar to the results of Figure 2. However, the fill factor of the cell, which did not vary in the doping concentration of atoms/cm3 for zero contact resistance, slightly increased in that concentration range due to the decrease of contact resistance. This increase in the fill factor, with the increased doping concentration, affected the tendency in the final efficiency of solar cell. While the efficiency decreased at atoms/cm3 for zero contact resistance, the lower contact resistance due to the higher doping concentration prevented the efficiency of the cell from decreasing up to atoms/cm3. Finally, it was observed that, considering the contact resistance, the optimum doping concentration of boron for the n-type crystalline silicon solar cell was in the range of atoms/cm3.
In order to discover the optimized p+ emitter for the n-type crystalline silicon solar cell, the boron-doped emitter was formed by the simulation method. The doping concentration of boron in the p+ emitter was varied in the range of atoms/cm3 to optimize the emitter structure. In the case that the contact resistance of the front metal electrode was assumed to be zero, the efficiency of the cell showed the maximum value at atoms/cm3. On the other hand, the nonzero contact resistance affected the performance of the solar cell. And with the increase of the contact resistance, which is closely related to the concentration of boron, the fill factor of the cell slightly decreased. Finally, the optimized doping concentration of boron was obtained in the range of atoms/cm3.
Conflict of Interests
None of the authors have any conflict of interests with respect to the material contained in this paper.
This work was supported by the New & Renewable Energy Technology Development Program of the Korea Institute of Energy Technology Evaluation and Planning (KETEP) Grant funded by the Korea Government Ministry of Knowledge Economy (no. 20113010010140).
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Copyright © 2013 Eun-Young Kim and Jeong Kim. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.