Experimental and Theoretical Study of Oxygen Precipitation and the Resulting Limitation of Silicon Solar Cell Wafers
IEEE Journal of Photovoltaics
Commercial silicon is prone to form silicon oxide precipitates during high-temperature treatments typical for solar cell production. Oxide precipitates can cause severe efficiency degradation in solar cells. We have developed a model describing the nucleation and growth of oxide precipitates that considers silicon self-interstitial defects and surface effects influencing the precipitate growth in ∼150 µm thick wafers during the solar cell processing. This kinetic model is calibrated with
... ibrated with experiments that cause a well-defined and strong precipitate growth to give a prediction of the carrier lifetime limitation because of the oxide precipitates. We test the oxide precipitate model with scanning Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy, selective etching, and lifetime measurements on typical Cz solar cell wafers before and after solar cell processes. Despite the relatively rough saw damaged etched surfaces and the thin wafers, we observe recurring ring patterns in the measurements of interstitial oxygen reductions, oxide precipitate etch pit density, and recombination activity by photoluminescence imaging. The concentration of precipitated oxygen correlates with the recombination activity and with the initial interstitial oxygen concentration. However, we found lifetime measurements to be a more sensitive technique to study oxide precipitates and using these we find smaller precipitates not detected by selective etching are very recombination active too. The measured concentrations of precipitated oxygen and lifetime agree fairly well with the predictions of the model.