, Volume 69, Issue 2, pp 169-177

Microcrystalline silicon and micromorph tandem solar cells

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Abstract.

“Micromorph” tandem solar cells consisting of a microcrystalline silicon bottom cell and an amorphous silicon top cell are considered as one of the most promising new thin-film silicon solar-cell concepts. Their promise lies in the hope of simultaneously achieving high conversion efficiencies at relatively low manufacturing costs. The concept was introduced by IMT Neuchâtel, based on the VHF-GD (very high frequency glow discharge) deposition method. The key element of the micromorph cell is the hydrogenated microcrystalline silicon bottom cell that opens new perspectives for low-temperature thin-film crystalline silicon technology. According to our present physical understanding microcrystalline silicon can be considered to be much more complex and very different from an ideal isotropic semiconductor. So far, stabilized efficiencies of about 12% (10.7% independently confirmed) could be obtained with micromorph solar cells. The scope of this paper is to emphasize two aspects: the first one is the complexity and the variety of microcrystalline silicon. The second aspect is to point out that the deposition parameter space is very large and mainly unexploited. Nevertheless, the results obtained are very encouraging and confirm that the micromorph concept has the potential to come close to the required performance criteria concerning price and efficiency.

Received: 1 March 1999 / Accepted: 28 March 1999 / Published online: 1 July 1999