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Enhancing the performance of novel photovoltaic technology

Scientists developed materials and methods, both for processing and for characterisation, to improve thin-film solar cell technology using polycrystalline silicon (Si) on glass.
Enhancing the performance of novel photovoltaic technology
Solar cell technology has advanced tremendously over the last few decades, and is now in its third generation of system architectures and materials at least in terms of research and development. Most of the world's photovoltaics are based on three technologies covering monocrystalline Si, polycrystalline Si, or thin-film panels typically of bulk Si or other materials. Thin-film polycrystalline Si, or polysilicon, has emerged as a promising alternative to bulk crystalline Si for high performance and low cost. The EU-funded project 'Improved polycrystalline-silicon modules on glass substrates' (POLYSIMODE) was designed to improve the efficiency of polysilicon and develop innovative methods for light confinement.

The team conducted advanced studies for in-depth characterisation of the crystallographic and electrical quality of the polysilicon. Generated data facilitated a better understanding of the interrelationship among processing parameters, electrical and optical materials properties, and final device properties. Electron-beam–induced crystallisation of a layer of amorphous Si was selected as the best technique for growing polysilicon layers, leading to impressive open circuit voltages (maximum voltage available) and a significant increase in throughput. Progress was also made towards improving the materials properties of other device components.

POLYSIMODE scientists made an important contribution to the development of thin-film solar cells with higher efficiencies based on polysilicon. Preliminary results suggest that increased efficiency can be achieved with a substantial cost reduction. Given that higher efficiency and lower cost are the driving factors for innovation in the field, materials and techniques developed within the scope of POLYSIMODE are certain to foster novel solutions.

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