Advanced Gettering of Multicrystalline Silicon for Commercial Solar Cells

Semiconductor and Silicon PV group – Oxford Materials
In order to move to a low-carbon future, and avoid the worst effects of anthropogenic climate change, continuing reductions in the cost of renewable energy are required. The semiconductor group at Oxford Materials, in collaboration with international research partners at Fraunhofer ISE in Germany and the University of New South Wales in Australia as well as industry partners, is working to reduce the cost of photovoltaic cells. Graduate students would work as part of a dedicated group of researchers on state-of-the-art techniques for improving the performance of crystalline silicon solar cells, which account for over 90% of all currently manufactured solar cells.

Multicrystalline silicon is the most common wafer material for current solar cell production. As multicrystalline solar cell efficiencies increase, recombination due to impurities in the material becomes more and more important. These impurities may be present in the silicon feedstock, or introduced during casting of the multicrystalline ingot. The graduate student will work on developing advanced gettering techniques to remove these impurities from multicrystalline wafers, and on characterizing the improvement in device parameters that may be achieved. This will be done in collaboration with the atom probe tomography unit at Oxford Materials. These technologies may improve the performance of commercial multicrystalline silicon or enable the use of materials currently considered too contaminated for solar cell production. The student would work closely with a range of wafer suppliers, as well as international research partners to ensure the commercial relevance of the work.

The description above outlines a possible new research project being offered to prospective new postgraduate students.

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