We have investigated the local electron transport in polycrystalline silicon (pc-Si) thin-films by atomic force microscopy (AFM)-based measurements of the electron-beam-induced current (EBIC). EVA solar cells are produced at UNSW by <i>EVAporation</i> of a-Si and subsequent <i>solid-phase crystallization</i>–a potentially cost-effective approach to the production of pc-Si photovoltaics. A fundamental understanding of the electron transport in these pc-Si thin films is of prime importance to address the factors limiting the efficiency of EVA solar cells. EBIC measurements performed in combination with an AFM integrated inside an electron microscope can resolve the electron transport across individual grain boundaries. AFM-EBIC reveals that most grain boundaries present a high energy barrier to the transport of electrons for both p-type and n-type EVA thin-films. Furthermore, for p-type EVA pc-Si, in contrast with n-type, charged grain boundaries are seen. Recombination at grain boundaries seems to be the dominant factor limiting the efficiency of these pc-Si solar cells.
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Romero, M.J., Liu, F., Kunz, O. et al. Imaging electron transport across grain boundaries in an integrated electron and atomic force microscopy platform: Application to polycrystalline silicon solar cells. MRS Online Proceedings Library 1153, 1503 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1557/PROC-1153-A15-03