Sub-micrometer random-pyramid texturing of silicon solar wafers with excellent surface passivation and low reflectance

Abdulwahab Alasfour, Zhengshan J. Yu, William Weigand, David Quispe, Zachary C. Holman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Select emerging solar cell technologies, ranging from very narrow screen-printed fingers to perovskite/silicon tandems, would benefit from a reduction of the height of the standard pyramidal texture of monocrystalline silicon wafers to below 1 μm. However, fabricating such small surface features usually compromises the requisite low reflectance and high passivation quality. Through systematic design of experiments, we demonstrate that conventional alkaline-based wet-chemical etching processes can be tuned to produce dense, spatially homogeneous, and uniformly sized sub-micrometer pyramids. Precise texture size can be further controlled by adding potassium silicate to the texturing solution to effectively slow the pyramid growth rate and promote nucleation. With pyramid size distribution data—extracted from multiple atomic force microscopy images across each wafer—we demonstrate 16 nanotextures with average pyramid sizes ranging from 62 to 512 nm, with the largest having only 0.3% of its pyramids taller than 1 μm. Six of the nanotextures exhibit light trapping and surface defect densities comparable to state-of-the-art microtextured wafers. The best nanotexture achieved an AM1.5G-weighted reflectance of 11.8% and a minority-carrier lifetime of 3.4 ms after passivation with amorphous silicon, demonstrating that smaller textures need not deteriorate solar cell performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number110761
JournalSolar Energy Materials and Solar Cells
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Low reflection
  • Nanotexture
  • Potassium silicate
  • Random pyramids
  • Surface passivation
  • Wet-chemical etching

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


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