We have recently reported that hydrogenated nanocrystalline silicon (nc-Si:H) solar cells exhibit metastability behavior that is significantly different from hydrogenated amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) solar cells. First, we studied the light-induced change of nc-Si:H cells under different light spectra, and observed that no light-induced degradation occurs when the photon energy is lower than the bandgap of a-Si:H, while light-induced degradation indeed occurs when the photon energy is higher than the bandgap of a-Si:H. Based on this observation, we conclude that the light-induced defect generation occurs mainly in the amorphous and/or grain boundary regions. Secondly, we found that forward-bias current injection in the dark does not cause any degradation in the performance of nc-Si:H cells, in contrast to observations in a-Si:H cells. This phenomenon can be explained by assuming transport percolation through crystallites, where excess carrier recombination does not cause degradation. Third, we found that a reverse electrical bias does not reduce, but rather enhances the light-induced degradation in the nc-Si:H cell performance. This enhancement increases with the magnitude of the reverse bias. We carried out a systematic study including measurements of quantum efficiency losses and fill factors under different color filters. In view of the heterogeneity of the material structure, we proposed a “back-to-back” diode model which explains most of the experimental results. Finally, we present results of the improvement of stability of nc-Si:H cells made using hydrogen dilution profiling. We find that the nc-Si:H cells with an optimized hydrogen dilution profile show very little light-induced degradation though these cells have a high amorphous volume fraction. This indicates that the amorphous volume fraction is not the only factor determining the degradation. Other factors, such as the structure and distribution of the amorphous phase, as well as the properties of the grain boundaries, apparently play important roles in the overall stability of nc-Si:H cells.
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Yue, G., Yan, B., Ganguly, G. et al. Metastability in Hydrogenated Nanocrystalline Silicon Solar Cells. MRS Online Proceedings Library 910, 201 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1557/PROC-0910-A02-01