Project Name: Technology Development for Greater than 23% Efficient P-PERC Solar Cells
Funding Opportunity: Solar Energy Technologies Office Fiscal Year 2018 Funding Program (SETO FY2018)
SETO Research Area: Photovoltaics
Location: Atlanta, GA
SETO Award Amount: $700,000
Awardee Cost Share: $175,000
Principal Investigator: Ajeet Rohatgi
-- Award and cost share amounts are subject to change pending negotiations --
This research team aims to develop several technologies that will increase the efficiency of commercial passivated emitter and rear contact (PERC) solar cells to above 23%, from the current efficiency of about 22%. PERC cells are the fastest-growing photovoltaic technology are already engineered to absorb more light than standard photovoltaic cells, so increasing their energy efficiency is key.
The team will study what causes PERC solar cell performance to degrade over time, develop new methods or materials with which to manufacture the cells, and model the cell to test how the efficiency changes when new methods or materials are used for manufacturing. They will first use a technique called tabula rasa, meaning “clean slate,” to remove build-up of impurities that formed during the manufacturing process. Then they will test new methods to screen-print a layer of metal oxide onto the solar cell so they can determine how to minimize damage and maximize efficiency. Finally, the team will fabricate commercial-size and -quality PERC cells in the lab to identify and mitigate bottlenecks in the manufacturing process.
The tabula rasa technique to remove impurities has been used on PERC cells that contain phosphorus. This group will expand the technique to PERC cells that contain boron. Removing impurities such as oxygen atoms in the silicon crystal from boron-doped PERC cells could increase their efficiencies. Minimizing damage that can result from screen-printing the metal oxide layer will also lead to improved efficiency. If successful, this work will increase efficiency and decrease solar cell manufacturing costs.