Microcrystalline silicon oxide (µc-SiOx:H) alloys prepared by plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) represent a versatile material class for opto-electronic applications especially for thin-film and wafer based silicon solar cells. The material is a phase mixture of microcrystalline silicon (µc-Si:H) and amorphous silicon oxide (a-SiOx:H). The possibility to enhance the optical band gap energy and to adjust the refractive index over a considerable range, together with the possibility to dope the material p-type as well as n-type, makes µc-SiOx:H an ideal material for the application as window layer, as intermediate reflector (IR), and as back reflector in thin-film silicon solar cells. Analogously, µc-SiOx:H is a suitable material for p- and n-type contact layers in silicon hetero junction (SHJ) solar cells. The present paper gives an overview on the range of physical parameters (refractive index, optical band gap, conductivity) which can be covered by this material by variation of the deposition conditions. The paper focuses on the interdependence between these material properties and optical improvements for amorphous silicon/microcrystalline silicon (a-Si:H/µc-Si:H) tandem solar cells prepared on different substrates, such as Asahi (VU) and sputtered ZnO:Al. It gives a guideline on possible optical gains when using doped µc-SiOx:H in silicon based solar cells. As intermediate reflector in a-Si:H/µc-Si:H tandem cells µc-SiOx:H leads to an effective transfer of short circuit current generation from the bottom cell to the top cell resulting in a possible thickness reduction of the top cell by 40%. Within another series of solar cells shown in this paper a short circuit current density of 14.1 mA/cm² for an a-Si:H/µc-Si:H tandem solar cell with a µc-SiOx:H intermediate reflector is demonstrated. A SHJ solar cell on a flat (non-textured) wafer using p- and n-type doped µc-SiOx:H contact layers with an effective area efficiency of 19.0% is also presented.
Lambertz, A., Smirnov, V., Merdzhanova, T., Ding, K., Haas, S., Jost, G., ... Rau, U. (2013). Microcrystalline silicon-oxygen alloys for application in silicon solar cells and modules. Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, 119, 134-143. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.solmat.2013.05.053