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International Journal of Photoenergy
Volume 2015, Article ID 548984, 10 pages
Research Article

Wet-Chemical Surface Texturing of Sputter-Deposited ZnO:Al Films as Front Electrode for Thin-Film Silicon Solar Cells

1Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore, National University of Singapore, 7 Engineering Drive 1, Singapore 117574
2NUS Graduate School for Integrative Sciences & Engineering (NGS), National University of Singapore, 28 Medical Drive, Singapore 117456
3Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, National University of Singapore, 4 Engineering Drive 3, Singapore 117576

Received 29 September 2014; Revised 22 January 2015; Accepted 24 January 2015

Academic Editor: Mohammed A. Gondal

Copyright © 2015 Xia Yan et al. 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.


Transparent conductive oxides (TCOs) play a major role as the front electrodes of thin-film silicon (Si) solar cells, as they can provide optical scattering and hence improved photon absorption inside the devices. In this paper we report on the surface texturing of aluminium-doped zinc oxide (ZnO:Al or AZO) films for improved light trapping in thin-film Si solar cells. The AZO films are deposited onto soda-lime glass sheets via pulsed DC magnetron sputtering. Several promising AZO texturing methods are investigated using diluted hydrochloric (HCl) and hydrofluoric acid (HF), through a two-step etching process. The developed texturing procedure combines the advantages of the HCl-induced craters and the smaller and jagged—but laterally more uniform—features created by HF etching. In the two-step process, the second etching step further enhances the optical haze, while simultaneously improving the uniformity of the texture features created by the HCl etch. The resulting AZO films show large haze values of above 40%, good scattering into large angles, and a surface angle distribution that is centred at around 30°, which is known from the literature to provide efficient light trapping for thin-film Si solar cells.