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Understanding the Properties of Silicon Solar Cell Aluminium Contact Layers and Its Effect on Mechanical Stability, Materials Sciences and Applications


Popovich, Vera;





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As the thickness of silicon solar wafer and solar cells becomes thinner, the cells are subjected to high stress due to the thermal coefficient mismatch induced by metallization process. Handling and bowing problems associated with thinner wafers become increasingly important, as these can lead to cells cracking and thus to high yield losses. The goal of this work to provide experimental understanding of Al rear side microstructure development and mechanical properties as well as correlate the obtained results with fracture behaviour of the cell. It is shown that the aluminium back contact has a complex microstructure, consisting of five main components: 1) the back surface field layer; 2) a eutectic layer; 3) spherical (3 - 5 μm) hypereutectic Al-Si particles surrounded by a thin aluminium oxide layer (200 nm); 4) a bis- muth-silicate glass matrix; and 5) pores (14 vol%). It was concluded that the eutectic layer thickness and waviness depends on Al particle size, amount of Al paste and textured surface roughness of silicon wafers. The Young’s modulus of the Al-Si particles is estimated by nano-indentation and the overall Young’s modulus is estimated on the basis of bowing measurements and found to be ~43 GPa. It was found, that there is a relation between aluminium paste composition, eutectic layer thickness, mechanical strength and bowing of solar cells. Three main parameters were found to affect the mechanical strength of mc-silicon solar cells with an aluminium contact layer, namely the eutectic layer thickness and uniformity, the Al layer thickness (which results from the Al particle size and its distribution), and the amount of porosity and the bismuth glass fraction.