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ECN publication
Bulk and surface passivation of silicon solar cells accomplished by silicon nitride deposited on industrial scale by microwave PECVD
Published by: Publication date:
ECN Solar Energy 1-10-2005
ECN report number: Document type:
ECN-RX--05-036 Article (scientific)
Number of pages:

Published in: Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications (John Wiley & Sons Ltd.), , 2005, Vol.13, p.551-569.


Bulk and surface passivation by silicon nitride has become an indispensable element in industrial production of multicrystalline silicon (mc-Si) solar cells. Microwave PECVD is a very effective method for high-throughput deposition of silicon nitride layers with the required properties for bulk and surface passivation. In this paper an analysis is presented of the relation between deposition parameters of microwave PECVD and material properties of silicon nitride. By tuning the process conditions (substrate temperature, gas .ows, working pressure) we have been able to fabricate silicon nitride layers which ful.ll almost ideally the four major requirements for mc-Si solar cells: (1) good anti-re.ection coating (refractive index tunable between 2.0 and 2.3); (2) good surface passivation on p-type FZ wafers (Seff<30 cm/s); (3) good bulk passivation (improvement of IQE at 1000 nm by 30% after short thermal anneal); (4) long-term stability (no observable degradation after several years of exposure to sunlight). By implementing this silicon nitride deposition in an inline production process of mc-Si solar cells we have been able to produce cells with an efficiency of 16,5%. Finally, we established that the continuous deposition process could be maintained for at least 20 h without interruption for maintenance. On this timescale we did not observe any signi.cant changes in layer properties or cell properties. This shows the robustness of microwave PECVD for industrial production.

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