Insights into the Degradation of Amorphous Silicon Passivation Layer for Heterojunction Solar Cells

Simone Bernardini, Mariana Bertoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Heterojunction (HJ) crystalline silicon (c-Si) solar cells outstanding performance relies heavily on the excellent passivation provided by the amorphous Si (a-Si:H) layer. However, recombination at the a-Si:H/c-Si interface can vary over time and become particularly detrimental for HJ modules performance making the full understanding of the recombination mechanisms at play of paramount importance. In this work, the variation of effective lifetime for high-quality n-type FZ c-Si substrates coated with a-Si:H(i) layer after several processing steps and over a period of 28 months is tracked. The root cause for degradation is identified by experimentally evaluating the surface recombination velocity (SRV) temperature- and injection-dependence before and after degradation has occurred. By applying a model for the recombination at the a-Si:H/c-Si interface to temperature- and injection-dependent SRV data, the authors are able to assess the lifetime decay as entirely ascribed to a loss of chemical passivation. Upon re-annealing the samples, only a partial recovery of lifetime is obtained suggesting that effusion of hydrogen from the a-Si:H layer has occurred. These results indicate that the usage of a capping layer is needed whereas a thorough engineering of the a-Si:H(i) layer thickness may be necessary to avoid the loss of performance of a-Si based heterojunction structures and modules.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1800705
JournalPhysica Status Solidi (A) Applications and Materials Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 20 2019


  • SRV degradation
  • amorphous silicon
  • silicon heterojunction
  • solar cells
  • surface passivation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Materials Chemistry


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