Degradation kinetics of amorphous silicon solar cells processed at high pressure and its relation to the nanostructure

Marinus Fischer, Robin J.V. Quax, Miro Zeman, Arno H.M. Smets

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review


In this study it is revealed that the light induced defects (LIDs) responsible for the fast degradation of hydrogenated amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) solar cells under light soaking are located at nanosized voids. This important breakthrough in identifying the local environment of LIDs has been achieved by detailed study of the relation between the nanostructure of a-Si:H and metastability of corresponding solar cell devices under light soaking. We propose that a useful tool to define the nanostructure of a-Si:H is to determine the size distribution of the volume deficiencies, which range from small hydrogenated vacancies up to nanosized voids. The processing window used to vary and control the nanostructure in dense a-Si:H is based on a hydrogen rich plasma at unconventional high processing pressures (~10 mbar). The dense absorber layers with different distributions of volume deficiencies are subsequently incorporated in solar cell devices. For the first time a clear relation between nanostructures of the a-Si:H absorber layer and the fast kinetics of the metastable LIDs of the solar cell during light soaking and thermal annealing is observed. The `fast' degradation (first 10 hours of light soaking) strongly correlates to the density of largest volume deficiencies in the a-Si:H matrix. The “slow” regime (10 tot 1000 hours of light soaking) appears to be independent on the nanostructure of the absorber layer. In addition, the fast metastable defect states are the first ones to be annealed out at relative low annealing temperatures (120-130 C). Although solar cells processed at higher pressure have the same long term degradation kinetics, their FF recovers much faster by thermal annealing when compared to the cells processed at standard low pressure and low hydrogen dilution conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings 2013 39th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference
EditorsR,P. Raffaelle
Place of PublicationPiscataway, NJ
PublisherIEEE Society
Number of pages49
VolumePart 2
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4799-0512-6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013
EventPVSC 2013: 39th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference - Tampa, FL, United States
Duration: 16 Jun 201321 Jun 2013
Conference number: 39


ConferencePVSC 2013
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityTampa, FL


  • staebler-wronski
  • amorphous silicon materials
  • light induced degradation
  • metastability
  • photovoltaic cells
  • nanostructure


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