Understanding the origin of Tabula Rasa-induced defects in n-type Cz c-Si: The case of nitrogen atmosphere

Jorge Ochoa, Vincenzo LaSalvia, Paul Stradins, Mariana I. Bertoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Phosphorus-doped Czochralski-grown silicon (Cz-Si) has been gaining market share in the large-scale manufacturing of high-efficiency silicon (Si)-based photovoltaic (PV) devices thanks to higher carrier lifetimes than their boron-doped counterpart. However, the fabrication of n-type Cz-Si based solar cells often requires process steps with much higher temperatures and longer times than p-type Silicon. Defect interaction with the high temperatures during such processes tend to be detrimental to the n-type Cz-Si carrier lifetime, therefore limiting the final device efficiency. Short thermal anneals before cell processing, known as Tabula Rasa (TR), have been proposed to mitigate the thermally induced lifetime degradation during n-type Cz-Si solar cell fabrication. This work thoroughly investigates the defects responsible for the lifetime degradation after TR in a N2 atmosphere treatment. We use temperature-injection-dependent lifetime spectroscopy and the thickness variation method to decouple the effects of TR treatment in the bulk and the surface of the n-type Cz-Si wafers. Using the defect parameter contour mapping (DPCM), we identify the defect energy level (Et) and the capture cross-section ratio (k) of the most likely process-induced defect, which aligns with previously proposed Si vacancy-associated defects. The DPCM reveals that these vacancy-associated defects have a shallow energy level Et − Ev ∼0.13 eV and very efficient electron capture cross section k∼600. Unexpectedly, the bulk degradation due to vacancy defects in the volume of the wafer, is accompanied by a significant increase in the surface recombination as well. Through evaluating the surface recombination velocity temperature- and injection dependence, we show that after TR, at room temperature and for an injection level of 1015 cm−3, in a wafer passivated with a-Si:H(i) the surface recombination dominates the overall lifetime response. We hypothesize that the near surface vacancy-associated bulk defects play a role in lowering the electron diffusion current into the a-Si:H(i) from the c-Si(n) reducing the field-effect passivation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number112159
JournalSolar Energy Materials and Solar Cells
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • Bulk lifetime characterization DPCM
  • Defects silicon
  • Surface passivation tabula rasa
  • Thermally induce degradation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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