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Solar energy

Advanced high-efficiency silicon solar cells employing innovative atomic scale engineered surface and contact passivation layers

  • $2.01m

    ARENA Funding

  • $6.63m

    Total Project Value

  • Project basics

    ARENA Program

    Advancing renewables

    Lead Organisation

    University of New South Wales

    Start Date

    Dec 2017

    Project Partners

    None

    Location

    Australian Capital Territory, Sydney

    Status

    Current

Project Basics

ARENA Program

Advancing renewables

Lead Organisation

University of New South Wales

Start Date

Dec 2017

Project Partners

None

Location

Australian Capital Territory, Sydney

Status

Current

Summary

In this project, we exploit the unique capabilities of Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) to synthesise innovative surface and contact passivating stacks. ALD allows the synthesis of multilayer structures that can be tailored at the atomic scale towards desired material properties such as work function, interface defect density, and conductance. Our particular focus is on increasing the selectivity of electron and hole contacts. The higher the selectivity of a contact, the higher the efficiency potential of the solar cell. The current contact systems used in Passivated Emitter Rear Cell (PERC) solar cells have a selectivity of 12 and 13 for holes and electrons, respectively, and this project aims to develop electron and hole contacts with higher selectivity and thus higher efficiency ceilings. These contacts can also be used for future silicon- based tandem solar cells.

How the project works

This project is a collaboration between the two leading Australian academic institutes, UNSW Sydney and the Australian National University (ANU), in the area of carrier-selective contacts with Lead Micro, a leading equipment supplier from China, and Merck Performance Materials.

The project aims at the development of novel carrier selective contacts. This will first be done at the lab scale at UNSW and the ANU and the most promising processes will be transferred to UNSW’s Solar Industrial Research Facility (SIRF). For this purpose, Lead Micro will supply a pilot-scale deposition reactor to UNSW. Finally, the most promising processes will be transferred to leading companies in the photovoltaic industry.

Area of innovation

Carrier-selective contacts are generally considered to be the next critical step for industrial silicon solar cells and are a key component of silicon-based tandem solar cells. This project will explore a wide range of materials at a fundamental level, but will also explore the commercial viability of the developed processes in an academic-industry consortium.

Benefit

This project is intrinsically aimed at lowering the levelized costs of electricity for solar electricity as the focus is on a cost-effective increase of the solar cell efficiency. Swift transfer to the industry is ensured by a close industry-academia collaboration and by conducting part of the project at the pilot scale level in Australia. The program also allows for training of students and other researchers using industry-scale tools and industry-relevant processes.

Contact information

Associate Professor Bram Hoex

Bram.Hoex@unsw.edu.au