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Content archived on 2024-04-30

Crystalline silicon thin film solar cells on low temperature substrates



The objective of the project is to produce a low cost solar cell by depositing a high quality film of crystalline silicon onto a low cost substrate such as glass. The particular feature of this project is that the choice of substrate requires that the deposition be done at a temperature below 650 C while still maintaining a good electronic quality in the material. Attention will be paid to achieving a high efficiency for a thin film solar cell to facilitate subsequent commercialisation and to attain the cost targets.


The project can be divided into three topics. (I) Substrates selection and preparation ; (ii) Deposition of the film of silicon; (iii) Solar Cell processing. Here will be innovation in each topic. Mechanical texturing of the substrate will be used to enhance light confinement. A range of deposition techniques including Hot-Wire CVD, ECR-PECVD, LPCVD and sputtering will be evaluated and in some cases electron beam recrystallisation of the deposited film will be used. The most promising technique will be selected for accelerated development after the mid term assessment. Emphasis in the solar cell processing will be given to low temperature processing using evaporated or electroless contacts rather than the conventional screen printed contacts which require high temperature firing. Supporting the main experimental work are tasks devoted to characterisation and process economics.

The project is very much research oriented so that a further development phase will probably be required before fill commercial exploitation can take place. The immediate target is to achieve a solar cell efficiency of greater than 10% on a cell area of 4 cm2 when deposited onto a glass substrate at temperature below 650 C. It is expected that the technology will be capable of achieving a manufacturing module cost of 1 ECU/Wp at a 10 Mwp pa production rate. Given a successful outcome the industrial partner will continue the development. A successful outcome will give a low cost photovoltaic module with the attractive features of silicon in low toxicity, high efficiency capability and good long term stability. The world market for PV is expected to be in excess of 300 Mwp pa by the year 2005 and a successfully developed product could command a major share of that market and stimulate further growth leading to major reductions in CO2 and other pollutant gas emissions.

Call for proposal

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EU contribution
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Participants (6)