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Limiting loss mechanisms in 23-percent efficient silicon solar cells


Armin G. Aberle, Pietro P. Altermatt, Gernot Heiser, Stephen J. Robinson, Aihua Wang, Jianhua Zhao, Ulrich Krumbein and Martin A. Green

Centre for Photovoltaic Devices and Systems


The “passivated emitter and rear locally diffused” (PERL) silicon solar cell structure presently demonstrates the highest terrestrial performance of any silicon-based solar cell. This paper presents a detailed investigation of the limiting loss mechanisms in PERL cells exhibiting independently confirmed 1-sun efficiencies of up to 23.0%. Optical, resistive, and recombinative losses are all analyzed under the full range of solar cell operating conditions with the aid of two-dimensional (2D) device simulations. The analysis is based on measurements of the reflectance, quantum efficiency, dark and illuminated current-voltage (I-V) characteristics, and properties of the Si-SiO2 interfaces employed on these cells for surface passivation. Through the use of the 2D simulations, particular attention has been paid to the magnitudes of the spatially resolved recombination losses in these cells. It is shown that approximately 50% of the recombination losses at the 1-sun maximum power point occur in the base of the cells, followed by recombination losses at the rear and front oxidized surfaces (25% and <25%, respectively). The relatively low fill factors of PERL cells are principally a result of resistive losses; however, the recombination behavior in the base and at the rear surface also contributes. This work predicts that the efficiency of 23% PERL cells could be increased by about 0.7% absolute if ohmic losses were eliminated, a further 1.1% absolute if there were no reflection losses at the nonmetallized front surface regions, about 2.0% by introducing ideal light trapping and eliminating shading losses due to the front metallization, and by about 3.7% absolute if the device had no defect-related recombination losses. New design rules for future efficiency improvements, evident from this analysis, are also presented.

BibTeX Entry

    author           = {Armin G. Aberle and Pietro P. Altermatt and Gernot Heiser and Stephen J. Robinson and Aihua Wang and
                        Jianhua Zhao and Ulrich Krumbein and Martin A. Green},
    journal          = {Journal of Applied Physics},
    title            = {Limiting Loss Mechanisms in 23-Percent Efficient Silicon Solar Cells},
    volume           = {77},
    year             = {1995},
    pages            = {3491--3504}