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Optimization of Front Contact Design on Nickel-Plated Si Solar Cells

Description

As global population and demand for electrical power increase, humanity is faced with the growing challenge of harnessing and distributing enough energy to sustain the developing world. Currently, fossil fuels (coal
atural gas) are our main sources of electricity. However,

As global population and demand for electrical power increase, humanity is faced with the growing challenge of harnessing and distributing enough energy to sustain the developing world. Currently, fossil fuels (coal
atural gas) are our main sources of electricity. However, their cost is increasing, they are nonrenewable, and they are very harmful to the environment. Thus, capacity expansion in the renewable energy sector must be realized to offset higher energy demand and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Solar energy represents a practical solution, as installed global solar capacity has been increasing exponentially over the past 2 decades. However, even with government incentives, solar energy price ($/kWh) continues to be highly dependent on political climate and raw material (silicon and silver) cost. To realistically and cost effectively meet the projected expansions within the solar industry, silver must be replaced with less costly and more abundant metals (such as copper) in the front-grid metallization process of photovoltaic cells. Copper, while offering both higher achievable efficiencies and a raw material cost nearly 100 times cheaper than silver, has inherent disadvantages. Specifically, copper diffuses rapidly into the silicon substrate, requires more complex and error-prone processing steps, and tends to have less adhesive strength, reducing panel robustness. In this study, nickel deposition via sputtering was analyzed, as well as overall potential of nickel as a seed layer for copper plating, which also provides a barrier layer to copper diffusion in silicon. Thermally-formed nickel silicide also reduces contact resistivity, increasing cell efficiency. It was found that at 400 \u00B0C, ideal nickel silicide formation occurred. By computer modeling, contact resistivity was found to have a significant impact on cell efficiency (up to 1.8%). Finally, sputtering proved useful to analyze nickel silicide formation, but costs and time requirements prevent it from being a practical industrial-scale metallization method.

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2017-05

All About Solar

Description

This is a lectures series on photovoltaics. As the need for electrical energy rises, mankind has struggled to meet its need in a reliable lasting way. Throughout this struggle, solar energy has come to the foreground as a complete solution.

This is a lectures series on photovoltaics. As the need for electrical energy rises, mankind has struggled to meet its need in a reliable lasting way. Throughout this struggle, solar energy has come to the foreground as a complete solution. However, it has many drawbacks and needs a lot of development. In addition, the general public is unaware of how solar energy works, how it is made, and how it stands economically. This series of lectures answering those three questions. After two years doing photovoltaic research, and an undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering, enough expertise has been acquired present on at a late high-school to early college level. Education is key to improving the popularity of using solar energy and the popularity of investing in photovoltaic research. Solar energy is a viable option to satisfy our energy crisis because the materials it requires can quickly be acquired, and there is enough of material to provide a global solution. In addition, the amount of solar energy that hits the surface of the earth in a day is orders of magnitude more than the amount of energy we require. The main goal of this project is to have an effective accessible tool to teach people about solar. Thus, the lectured will be posted on pveducation.com, YouTube, the Barrett repository, and the QUSST website. The content was acquired in four ways. The first way is reading up on the current papers and journals describing the new developments in photovoltaics. The second part is getting in contact with Stuart Bowden and Bill Daukser at Arizona State University's Solar Power Lab as well as the other faculty associated with the Solar Power Lab. There is quite a bit of novel research going on at their lab, as well as a student run pilot line that is actively building solar cells. The third way is reading about solar device physics using device physics textbooks and the PVEducation website made by Stuart Bowden. The forth way is going into ASU's solar power lab.

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2017-05

All About Solar

Description

This is a lectures series on photovoltaics. As the need for electrical energy rises, mankind has struggled to meet its need in a reliable lasting way. Throughout this struggle, solar energy has come to the foreground as a complete solution.

This is a lectures series on photovoltaics. As the need for electrical energy rises, mankind has struggled to meet its need in a reliable lasting way. Throughout this struggle, solar energy has come to the foreground as a complete solution. However, it has many drawbacks and needs a lot of development. In addition, the general public is unaware of how solar energy works, how it is made, and how it stands economically. This series of lectures answering those three questions.

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2017-05

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Solar Powered Quadcopter

Description

The purpose of the solar powered quadcopter is to join together the growing technologies of photovoltaics and quadcopters, creating a single unified device where the technologies harmonize to produce a new product with abilities beyond those of a traditional battery

The purpose of the solar powered quadcopter is to join together the growing technologies of photovoltaics and quadcopters, creating a single unified device where the technologies harmonize to produce a new product with abilities beyond those of a traditional battery powered drone. Specifically, the goal is to take the battery-only flight time of a quadcopter loaded with a solar array and increase that flight time by 33% with additional power provided by solar cells. The major concepts explored throughout this project are quadcopter functionality and capability and solar cell power production. In order to combine these technologies, the solar power and quadcopter components were developed and analyzed individually before connecting the solar array to the quadcopter circuit and testing the design as a whole. Several solar copter models were initially developed, resulting in multiple unique quadcopter and solar cell array designs which underwent preliminary testing before settling on a finalized design which proved to be the most effective and underwent final timed flight tests. Results of these tests are showing that the technologies complement each other as anticipated and highlight promising results for future development in this area, in particular the development of a drone running on solar power alone. Applications for a product such as this are very promising in many fields, including the industries of power, defense, consumer goods and services, entertainment, marketing, and medical. Also, becoming a more popular device for UAV hobbyists, such developments would be very appealing for leisure flying and personal photography purposes as well.

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2015-12

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Study of charges present in silicon nitride thin films and their effect on silicon solar cell efficiencies

Description

As crystalline silicon solar cells continue to get thinner, the recombination of carriers at the surfaces of the cell plays an ever-important role in controlling the cell efficiency. One tool to minimize surface recombination is field effect passivation from the

As crystalline silicon solar cells continue to get thinner, the recombination of carriers at the surfaces of the cell plays an ever-important role in controlling the cell efficiency. One tool to minimize surface recombination is field effect passivation from the charges present in the thin films applied on the cell surfaces. The focus of this work is to understand the properties of charges present in the SiNx films and then to develop a mechanism to manipulate the polarity of charges to either negative or positive based on the end-application. Specific silicon-nitrogen dangling bonds (·Si-N), known as K center defects, are the primary charge trapping defects present in the SiNx films. A custom built corona charging tool was used to externally inject positive or negative charges in the SiNx film. Detailed Capacitance-Voltage (C-V) measurements taken on corona charged SiNx samples confirmed the presence of a net positive or negative charge density, as high as +/- 8 x 1012 cm-2, present in the SiNx film. High-energy (~ 4.9 eV) UV radiation was used to control and neutralize the charges in the SiNx films. Electron-Spin-Resonance (ESR) technique was used to detect and quantify the density of neutral K0 defects that are paramagnetically active. The density of the neutral K0 defects increased after UV treatment and decreased after high temperature annealing and charging treatments. Etch-back C-V measurements on SiNx films showed that the K centers are spread throughout the bulk of the SiNx film and not just near the SiNx-Si interface. It was also shown that the negative injected charges in the SiNx film were stable and present even after 1 year under indoor room-temperature conditions. Lastly, a stack of SiO2/SiNx dielectric layers applicable to standard commercial solar cells was developed using a low temperature (< 400 °C) PECVD process. Excellent surface passivation on FZ and CZ Si substrates for both n- and p-type samples was achieved by manipulating and controlling the charge in SiNx films.

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Date Created
2013

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Development of thin heterojunction solar cells with high open circuit voltage

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The aim of this thesis research is the development of thin silicon heterojunction solar cells with high open circuit voltage (Voc). Heterojunction solar cells are higher in efficiency than diffused junction c-Si solar cells, and they are less vulnerable to

The aim of this thesis research is the development of thin silicon heterojunction solar cells with high open circuit voltage (Voc). Heterojunction solar cells are higher in efficiency than diffused junction c-Si solar cells, and they are less vulnerable to light degradation. Furthermore, the low temperature processing of heterojunction cells favour a decrease in production costs and improve cell performance at the same time. Since about 30 % of the module cost is a result of substrate cost, thin solar cells are of economic advantage than their thicker counterparts. This lead to the research for development of thin heterojunction solar cells. For high cell efficiencies and performance, it is important for cells to have a high operating voltage and Voc. Development of heterojunction cells with high Voc required a stable and repeatable baseline process on which further improvements could be made. Therefore a baseline process for heterojunction solar cells was developed and demonstrated as a pilot line at the Solar Power Lab at ASU. All the processes involved in fabrication of cells with the baseline process were optimized to have a stable and repeatable process. The cells produced with the baseline process were 19-20% efficient. The baseline process was further used as a backbone to improve and develop thin cells with even higher Voc. The process recipe was optimized with an aim to explore the limits of Voc that could be achieved with this structure on a much thinner substrate than used for the baseline process. A record Voc greater than 760mV was recorded at SPL using Suns-Voc tester on a 50 microns thick heterojunction cell without metallization. Furthermore, Voc of 754.2 mV was measured on a 50 microns thick cell with metallization by National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which is a record for Voc for heterojunction cells with metallization. High Voc corresponds to high cell efficiency and therefore, higher module voltage and power with using the same number of cells as compared to other c-Si solar cells.

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Date Created
2015

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Charged silicon nitride films: field-fffect passivation of silicon solar cells and a novel characterization method through lifetime measurements

Description

Silicon (Si) solar cells are the dominant technology used in the Photovoltaics industry. Field-effect passivation by means of electrostatic charges stored in an overlying insulator on a silicon solar cell has been proven to be a significantly efficient way to

Silicon (Si) solar cells are the dominant technology used in the Photovoltaics industry. Field-effect passivation by means of electrostatic charges stored in an overlying insulator on a silicon solar cell has been proven to be a significantly efficient way to reduce effective surface recombination velocity and increase minority carrier lifetime. Silicon nitride (SiNx) films have been extensively used as passivation layers. The capability to store charges makes SiNx a promising material for excellent feild effect passivation. In this work, symmetrical Si/SiO2/SiNx stacks are developed to study the effect of charges in SiNx films. SiO2 films work as barrier layers. Corona charging technique showed the ability to inject charges into the SiNx films in a short time. Minority carrier lifetimes of the Czochralski (CZ) Si wafers increased significantly after either positive or negative charging. A fast and contactless method to characterize the charged overlying insulators on Si wafer through lifetime measurements is proposed and studied in this work, to overcome the drawbacks of capacitance-voltage (CV) measurements such as time consuming, induction of contanmination and hysteresis effect, etc. Analytical simulations showed behaviors of inverse lifetime (Auger corrected) vs. minority carrier density curves depend on insulator charge densities (Nf). From the curve behavior, the Si surface condition and region of Nf can be estimated. When the silicon surface is at high strong inversion or high accumulation, insulator charge density (Nf) or surface recombination velocity parameters (Sn0 and Sp0) can be determined from the slope of inverse lifetime curves, if the other variable is known. If Sn0 and Sp0 are unknown, Nf values of different samples can be compared as long as all have similar Sn0 and Sp0 values. Using the saturation current density (J0) and intercept fit extracted from the lifetime measurement, the bulk lifetime can be calculated. Therefore, this method is feasible and promising for charged insulator characterization.

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Date Created
2014

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Advanced hybrid solar cell approaches for future generation ultra-high efficiency photovoltaic devices

Description

Increasing the conversion efficiencies of photovoltaic (PV) cells beyond the single junction theoretical limit is the driving force behind much of third generation solar cell research. Over the last half century, the experimental conversion efficiency of both single junction and

Increasing the conversion efficiencies of photovoltaic (PV) cells beyond the single junction theoretical limit is the driving force behind much of third generation solar cell research. Over the last half century, the experimental conversion efficiency of both single junction and tandem solar cells has plateaued as manufacturers and researchers have optimized various materials and structures. While existing materials and technologies have remarkably good conversion efficiencies, they are approaching their own limits. For example, tandem solar cells are currently well developed commercially but further improvements through increasing the number of junctions struggle with various issues related to material interfacial defects. Thus, there is a need for novel theoretical and experimental approaches leading to new third generation cell structures. Multiple exciton generation (MEG) and intermediate band (IB) solar cells have been proposed as third generation alternatives and theoretical modeling suggests they can surpass the detailed balance efficiency limits of single junction and tandem solar cells. MEG or IB solar cell has a variety of advantages enabling the use of low bandgap materials. Integrating MEG and IB with other cell types to make novel solar cells (such as MEG with tandem, IB with tandem or MEG with IB) potentially offers improvements by employing multi-physics effects in one device. This hybrid solar cell should improve the properties of conventional solar cells with a reduced number of junction, increased light-generated current and extended material selections. These multi-physics effects in hybrid solar cells can be achieved through the use of nanostructures taking advantage of the carrier confinement while using existing solar cell materials with excellent characteristics. This reduces the additional cost to develop novel materials and structures. In this dissertation, the author develops thermodynamic models for several novel types of solar cells and uses these models to optimize and compare their properties to those of existing PV cells. The results demonstrate multiple advantages from combining MEG and IB technology with existing solar cell structures.

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Date Created
2014

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Development of a diffused junction silicon solar cell pilot line

Description

In the interest of expediting future pilot line start-ups for solar cell research, the development of Arizona State University's student-led pilot line at the Solar Power Laboratory is discussed extensively within this work. Several experiments and characterization techniques used to

In the interest of expediting future pilot line start-ups for solar cell research, the development of Arizona State University's student-led pilot line at the Solar Power Laboratory is discussed extensively within this work. Several experiments and characterization techniques used to formulate and optimize a series of processes for fabricating diffused-junction, screen-printed silicon solar cells are expounded upon. An experiment is conducted in which the thickness of a PECVD deposited anti-reflection coating (ARC) is varied across several samples and modeled as a function of deposition time. Using this statistical model in tandem with reflectance measurements for each sample, the ARC thickness is optimized to increase light trapping in the solar cells. A response surface model (RSM) experiment is conducted in which 3 process parameters are varied on the PECVD tool for the deposition of the ARCs on several samples. A contactless photoconductance decay (PCD) tool is used to measure the dark saturation currents of these samples. A statistical analysis is performed using JMP in which optimum deposition parameters are found. A separate experiment shows an increase in the passivation quality of the a-SiNx:H ARCs deposited on the solar cells made on the line using these optimum parameters. A RSM experiment is used to optimize the printing process for a particular silver paste in a similar fashion, the results of which are confirmed by analyzing the series resistance of subsequent cells fabricated on the line. An in-depth explanation of a more advanced analysis using JMP and PCD measurements on the passivation quality of 3 aluminum back-surface fields (BSF) is given. From this experiment, a comparison of the means is conducted in order to choose the most effective BSF paste for cells fabricated on the line. An experiment is conducted in parallel which confirms the results via Voc measurements. It is shown that in a period of 11 months, the pilot line went from producing a top cell efficiency of 11.5% to 17.6%. Many of these methods used for the development of this pilot line are equally applicable to other cell structures, and can easily be applied to other solar cell pilot lines.

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Date Created
2014

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Using thermal energy storage to increase photovoltaic penetration at Arizona State University's Tempe Campus

Description

This thesis examines using thermal energy storage as a demand side management tool for air-conditioning loads with the goal of increasing photovoltaic penetration. It uses Arizona State University (ASU) as a case study. The analysis is completed with a modeling

This thesis examines using thermal energy storage as a demand side management tool for air-conditioning loads with the goal of increasing photovoltaic penetration. It uses Arizona State University (ASU) as a case study. The analysis is completed with a modeling approach using typical meteorological year (TMY) data, along with ASU’s historical load data. Sustainability, greenhouse gas emissions, carbon neutrality, and photovoltaic (PV) penetration are all considered along with potential economic impacts.

By extrapolating the air-conditioning load profile from the existing data sets, it can be ensured that cooling demands can be met at all times under the new management method. Using this cooling demand data, it is possible to determine how much energy is required to meet these needs. Then, modeling the PV arrays, the thermal energy storage (TES), and the chillers, the maximum PV penetration in the future state can be determined.

Using this approach, it has been determined that ASU can increase their solar PV resources by a factor of 3.460, which would amount to a PV penetration of approximately 48%.

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Date Created
2016