Black Silicon Improves the Efficiency of Solar Cells


Scientists have achieved substantial enhancements in light absorption and surface passivation of silicon nanostructures using atomic layer coating, promising advancements in high-efficiency solar cells and other light-responsive devices. Credit: Aalto University

In a newly published study, researchers from Aalto University show that black silicon can improve the efficiency of solar cells by improving the light absorption and surface passivation.

Scientists at Aalto University have demonstrated results that show a huge improvement in the light absorption and the surface passivation of silicon nanostructures. This has been achieved by applying atomic layer coating. The results advance the development of devices that require high-sensitivity light response such as high-efficiency solar cells.

This method provides extremely good surface passivation. Simultaneously, it reduces the reflectance further at all wavelengths. These results are very promising considering the use of black silicon (b-Si) surfaces on solar cells to increase the efficiency to completely new levels, tells research scientist Päivikki Repo.

More effective surface passivation methods than those used in the past have been needed to make black silicon a viable material for commercial applications. Good surface passivation is crucial in photonic applications such as solar cells. So far, the poor charge carrier transport properties attributed to nanostructured surfaces have been more detrimental for the final device operation than the gain obtained from the reduced reflectance.

Black silicon (b-Si) can also be used in other technologies than solar cells. Numerous applications suggested for b-Si include drug analysis.

Black silicon has been a subject of great interest in various fields including photovoltaics for its ability to reduce the surface reflectance even below 1 percent. However, many b-Si applications — especially solar cells — suffer from increased surface recombination resulting in poor spectral response. This is particularly problematic at short wavelengths.

Reference: “Effective Passivation of Black Silicon Surfaces by Atomic Layer Deposition” by Päivikki Repo, Antti Haarahiltunen, Lauri Sainiemi, Marko Yli-Koski, Heli Talvitie, Martin C. Schubert and Hele Savin, 9 August 2012, IEEE Journal of Photovoltaics.
DOI: 10.1109/JPHOTOV.2012.2210031

The research has just been published in the Journal of Photovoltaics. The research is carried out by Aalto University, Finland, together with experts from Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, Germany.

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