Improved modelling of grain boundary recombination in bulk and p-n junction regions of polycrystalline silicon solar cells

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This paper provides a theoretical investigation of recombination at grain boundaries in both bulk and p-n junction regions of silicon solar cells. Previous models of grain boundaries and grain boundary properties are reviewed. A two dimensional numerical model of grain boundary recombination is presented in this paper. This numerical model is compared to existing analytical models of grain boundary recombination within both bulk and p-n junction regions of silicon solar cells. This analysis shows that, under some conditions, existing models poorly predict the recombination current at grain boundaries. Within bulk regions of a device, the effective surface recombination velocity at grain boundaries is overestimated in cases where the region around the grain boundary is not fully depleted of majority carriers. For vertical grain boundaries (columnar grains), existing models are shown to underestimate the recombination current within p-n junction depletion regions. This current has an ideality factor of about 1.8. An improved analytical model for grain boundary recombination within the p-n junction depletion region is presented. This model considers the effect of the grain boundary charge on the electric field within the p-n junction depletion region. The grain boundary charge reduces the p-n junction electric field, at the grain boundary, enhancing recombination in this region. This model is in agreement with the numerical results over a wide range of grain boundary recombination rates. In extreme cases, however, the region of enhanced, high ideality factor recombination can extend well outside the p-n junction depletion region. This leads to a breakdown of analytical models for both bulk and p-n junction recombination, necessitating the use of the numerical model.
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Edminston, Sean
Heiser, Gernot
Sproul, Alistair
Green, Martin
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Journal Article
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UNSW Faculty