Towards Cost-Effective Crystalline Silicon Based Flexible Solar Cells: Integration Strategy by Rational Design of Materials, Process, and Devices
AuthorsBahabry, Rabab R.
AdvisorsHussain, Muhammad Mustafa
KAUST DepartmentPhysical Sciences and Engineering (PSE) Division
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AbstractThe solar cells market has an annual growth of more than 30 percent over the past 15 years. At the same time, the cost of the solar modules diminished to meet both of the rapid global demand and the technological improvements. In particular for the crystalline silicon solar cells, the workhorse of this technology. The objective of this doctoral thesis is enhancing the efficiency of c-Si solar cells while exploring the cost reduction via innovative techniques. Contact metallization and ultra-flexible wafer based c-Si solar cells are the main areas under investigation. First, Silicon-based solar cells typically utilize screen printed Silver (Ag) metal contacts which affect the optimal electrical performance. To date, metal silicide-based ohmic contacts are occasionally used for the front contact grid lines. In this work, investigation of the microstructure and the electrical characteristics of nickel monosilicide (NiSi) ohmic contacts on the rear side of c-Si solar cells has been carried out. Significant enhancement in the fill factor leading to increasing the total power conversion efficiency is observed. Second, advanced classes of modern application require a new generation of versatile solar cells showcasing extreme mechanical resilience. However, silicon is a brittle material with a fracture strains <1%. Highly flexible Si-based solar cells are available in the form thin films which seem to be disadvantageous over thick Si solar cells due to the reduction of the optical absorption with less active Si material. Here, a complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology based integration strategy is designed where corrugation architecture to enable an ultra-flexible solar cell module from bulk mono-crystalline silicon solar wafer with 17% efficiency. This periodic corrugated array benefits from an interchangeable solar cell segmentation scheme which preserves the active silicon thickness and achieves flexibility via interdigitated back contacts. These cells can reversibly withstand high mechanical stress as the screen-printed metals have fracture strain >15%. Furthermore, the integration of the cells is demonstrated on curved surfaces for a fully functional system. Finally, the developed flexing approach is used to fabricate three-dimensional dome-shaped cells to reduce the optical coupling losses without the use of the expensive solar tracking/tilting systems.