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SciTech Connect

Title: Photovoltaic Materials

The goal of the current project was to help make the US solar industry a world leader in the manufacture of thin film photovoltaics. The overall approach was to leverage ORNL’s unique characterization and processing technologies to gain a better understanding of the fundamental challenges for solar cell processing and apply that knowledge to targeted projects with industry members. ORNL has the capabilities in place and the expertise required to understand how basic material properties including defects, impurities, and grain boundaries affect the solar cell performance. ORNL also has unique processing capabilities to optimize the manufacturing process for fabrication of high efficiency and low cost solar cells. ORNL recently established the Center for Advanced Thin-film Systems (CATS), which contains a suite of optical and electrical characterization equipment specifically focused on solar cell research. Under this project, ORNL made these facilities available to industrial partners who were interested in pursuing collaborative research toward the improvement of their product or manufacturing process. Four specific projects were pursued with industrial partners: Global Solar Energy is a solar industry leader in full scale production manufacturing highly-efficient Copper Indium Gallium diSelenide (CIGS) thin film solar material, cells and products. ORNL worked with GSE to develop a more » scalable, non-vacuum, solution technique to deposit amorphous or nanocrystalline conducting barrier layers on untextured stainless steel substrates for fabricating high efficiency flexible CIGS PV. Ferro Corporation’s Electronic, Color and Glass Materials (“ECGM”) business unit is currently the world’s largest supplier of metallic contact materials in the crystalline solar cell marketplace. Ferro’s ECGM business unit has been the world's leading supplier of thick film metal pastes to the crystalline silicon PV industry for more than 30 years, and has had operational cells and modules in the field for 25 years. Under this project, Ferro leveraged world leading analytical capabilities at ORNL to characterize the paste-to-silicon interface microstructure and develop high efficiency next generation contact pastes. Ampulse Corporation is developing a revolutionary crystalline-silicon (c-Si) thin-film solar photovoltaic (PV) technology. Utilizing uniquely-textured substrates and buffer materials from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and breakthroughs in Hot-Wire Chemical Vapor Deposition (HW-CVD) techniques in epitaxial silicon developed at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Ampulse is creating a solar technology that is tunable in silicon thickness, and hence in efficiency and economics, to meet the specific requirements of multiple solar PV applications. This project focused on the development of a high rate deposition process to deposit Si, Ge, and Si1-xGex films as an alternate to hot-wire CVD. Mossey Creek Solar is a start-up company with great expertise in the solar field. The primary interest is to create and preserve jobs in the solar sector by developing high-yield, low-cost, high-efficiency solar cells using MSC-patented and -proprietary technologies. The specific goal of this project was to produce large grain formation in thin, net-shape-thickness mc-Si wafers processed with high-purity silicon powder and ORNL's plasma arc lamp melting without introducing impurities that compromise absorption coefficient and carrier lifetime. As part of this project, ORNL also added specific pieces of equipment to enhance our ability to provide unique insight for the solar industry. These capabilities include a moisture barrier measurement system, a combined physical vapor deposition and sputtering system dedicated to cadmium-containing deposits, adeep level transient spectroscopy system useful for identifying defects, an integrating sphere photoluminescence system, and a high-speed ink jet printing system. These tools were combined with others to study the effect of defects on the performance of crystalline silicon and thin film solar cells, to explore non-vacuum ink-based approaches to solar cell production, as well as large-scale and low-cost deposition and processing of thin film CdTe material. « less
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Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE EE Office of Industrial Technologies (EE-2F)
Country of Publication:
United States