Understanding the Role of Forming Gas on the Screen-Printed Crystalline Silicon Solar Cell Front Grid

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Ebong, Abasifreke
Kim, Dong Seop
Yelundur, Vijay
Upadhyaya, V.
Rounsaville, Brian
Upadhyaya, A. D.
Tate, K.
Rohatgi, Ajeet
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In this paper we report on the role of forming gas anneal on the fill factor of a small area cell and efficiency loss due to scaling the cell area. Solar cells that are under-fired and those fired at the optimum peak firing cycle showed very marginal response to forming gas anneal. Forming gas anneal is most effective for over-fired cells. The high temperature for the over-fired cells is believed to enhance Ag crystallites growth and the formation of a thick glass layer between the Ag front grid and silicon material. The forming gas anneal aids in reducing the glass to its metal, increase the conductivity of the glass and decrease the contact resistance. Solar cells with four different areas (4-cm(2), 49-cm(2), 100-cm(2) and 156-cm(2)) that were fired at the optimized peak firing temperature showed excellent fill factors without the forming gas anneal treatment. The fill factor was not a strong function of the area even though individually the n-factor and series resistance varied due to edge recombination. The efficiency and short circuit current density showed a quadratic relation with the cell area. The short circuit current density showed a difference of 3.2 mA/cm2 between the 4-cm2 and 156-cm2 cells. The short circuit current density decreased with area due to shading, diffusion length and back surface recombination velocity or Leff, front surface recombination velocity, and area loss due to edge isolation. Improved understanding of these effects coupled with grid design and process optimization can bridge the gap between the small and large area cells.
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