Thin film technologies to fabricate solar cells offer a high potential for a breakthrough in production cost since they consume less materials and ease the introduction of mass production techniques, as compared to the currently dominating wafer-based silicon technology. One of the most promising of these thin film approaches is the crystalline silicon thin film cell.
A consortium has been formed by partners from industry and from research organisations to investigate the potential of the new technology. The main goals are :
- to define a cell concept appropriate to an industrial product - to show the feasibility of essential process steps
- to perform a careful economic process evaluation
In this project, only the high temperature approach for the silicon deposition will be discussed, and for economic reasons only chlorosilanes are discussed as silicon source. This limits the substrate materials to those that can withstand temperatures of higher than 1000 C, and which are chemically stable in contact with silicon at this high temperature.
Furthermore, it has been decided to focus mainly on substrate materials based on silicon. This can be silicon itself, crystallised in form of sheets, or it can be a ceramic material based on silicon oxides, nitrides, or carbides. Expected achievements are the demonstration of :
- an appropriate substrate and a low-cost fabrication technique - a fast and cost-effective deposition technique for silicon films - a cell technology which is compatible with mass fabrication - interconnection and encapsulation schemes for these new cells.
An important feature of the research is the inclusion of a thorough economic evaluation. The Consortium is confident to be able to deliver data for an in-depth comparison of the new technology with other thin-film options, but also with the conventional thick silicon technique. It is the intention of this proposed work to direct research and development in the field of the crystalline silicon thin film solar cells towards the industrial perspectives.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts