Impact of thermal processes on multi-crystalline silicon

Moonyong Kim*, Phillip Hamer, Hongzhao Li, David Payne, Stuart Wenham, Malcolm Abbott, Brett Hallam

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Fabrication of modern multi-crystalline silicon solar cells involves multiple processes that are thermally intensive. These include emitter diffusion, thermal oxidation and firing of the metal contacts. This paper illustrates the variation and potential effects upon recombination in the wafers due to these thermal processes. The use of light emitter diffusions more compatible with selective emitter designs had a more detrimental effect on the bulk lifetime of the silicon than that of heavier diffusions compatible with a homogenous emitter design and screen-printed contacts. This was primarily due to a reduced effectiveness of gettering for the light emitter. This reduction in lifetime could be mitigated through the use of a dedicated gettering process applied before emitter diffusion. Thermal oxidations could greatly improve surface passivation in the intragrain regions, with the higher temperatures yielding the highest quality surface passivation. However, the higher temperatures also led to an increase in bulk recombination either due to a reduced effectiveness of gettering, or due to the presence of a thicker oxide layer, which may interrupt hydrogen passivation. The effects of fast firing were separated into thermal effects and hydrogenation effects. While hydrogen can passivate defects hence improving the performance, thermal effects during fast firing can dissolve precipitating impurities such as iron or de-getter impurities hence lower the performance, leading to a poisoning of the intra-grain regions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-41
Number of pages10
JournalFrontiers in Energy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • gettering
  • grain boundaries
  • hydrogen
  • impurities
  • oxidation
  • passivation
  • solar cell


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