Simulation and optimization of ultra thin photovoltaics

Jose Luis Cruz-Campa, University of Texas at El Paso


Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) conducts pioneering research and development in Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) and solar cell research. This dissertation project combines these two areas to create ultra-thin small-form-factor crystalline silicon (c-Si) solar cells. These miniature solar cells create a new class of photovoltaics with potentially novel applications and benefits such as dramatic reductions in cost, weight and material usage. At the beginning of the project, unusually low efficiencies were obtained in the research group. The intention of this research was thus to investigate the main causes of the low efficiencies through simulation, design, fabrication, and characterization. Commercial simulation tools were used to find the main causes of low efficiency. Once the causes were identified, the results were used to create improved designs and build new devices. In the simulations, parameters were varied to see the effect on the performance. The researched parameters were: resistance, wafer lifetime, contact separation, implant characteristics (size, dosage, energy, ratio between the species), contact size, substrate thickness, surface recombination, and light concentration. Out of these parameters, it was revealed that a high quality surface passivation was the most important for obtaining higher performing cells. Therefore, several approaches for enhancing the passivation were tried, characterized, and tested on cells. In addition, a methodology to contact and test the performance of all the cells presented in the dissertation under calibrated light was created. Also, next generation cells that could incorporate all the optimized layers including the passivation was designed, built, and tested. In conclusion, through this investigation, solar cells that incorporate optimized designs and passivation schemes for ultrathin solar cells were created for the first time. Through the application of the methods discussed in this document, the efficiency of the solar cells increased from below 1% to 15% in Microsystems Enabled Photovoltaic (MEPV) devices.

Subject Area

Alternative Energy|Electrical engineering|Energy

Recommended Citation

Cruz-Campa, Jose Luis, "Simulation and optimization of ultra thin photovoltaics" (2010). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI3433470.