Poly-Silicon Passivating Contacts for Crystalline Silicon Solar Cells

  • Areej A Alzahrani

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Passivating-contact technologies fabricated from polycrystalline-silicon (poly-Si) are increasingly considered by the crystalline silicon (c-S) PV industry to be key enablers towards record performance. This is largely thanks to their ability to provide excellent carrier collection and surface passivation, while being compatible with industrial scale production. Poly-Si based passivating contacts consist of a stack of an ultrathin silicon oxide (SiOx) film on the surface of crystalline silicon (c-Si), covered by a doped silicon film. Thin films of SiOx can be grown by several different methods: chemically, thermally, or via UV-ozone exposure. However, each of these methods presents challenges towards industrial implementation. Here, we report an alternative method to grow SiOx films using an in-situ plasma process, where we subsequently deposit the doped poly-Si layer in the same process chamber by plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD). This process presents several advantages, such as ease of fabrication, inherently single-side oxide growth and poly-Si deposition, and the combined deposition in one chamber, lowering capital expenditure. Subsequently, we studied the structure of the SiOx films and the doped poly-Si(p+) capping layers using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopy (UPS) in order to determine the films’ elemental composition, and the band alignment at the semiconductor/oxide interfaces. A less p-type polysilicon was observed grown on top of a wet SiOx/c-Si with the origin tentatively attributed to depletion of the boron dopant via pin holes evidenced by AFM. A surface photo-voltage (SPV) was observed by XPS under in-situ light bias (AM 1.5) and a representation of the band alignment of the c-Si/SiOx/p-polysilicon under illumination is derived. The SPV was attributed to the photo accumulation of holes at the p-polysilicon and a splitting of quasi-fermi levels with its magnitude correlated to the device measured iVoc . Finally, a valuable application for this contact technology is the integration of silicon with perovskite solar cells, in the so-called monolithic tandem configuration. This approach is very promising to develop a new generation of PV with unmatched performances. Here, poly-Si contacts offer a variety of advantages, thanks to their broader material selection and to the stability at high processing temperature.
Date of AwardDec 14 2021
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Physical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorStefaan De Wolf (Supervisor)


  • Poly-Silicon
  • Passivating Contacts
  • Solar Cells

Cite this