Quantification of hydrogen in nanostructured hydrogenated passivating contacts for silicon photovoltaics combining SIMS-APT-TEM A multiscale correlative approach


Multiscale characterization of the hydrogenation process of silicon solar cell contacts based on c-Si/SiOx/nc-SiCx(p) has been performed by combining dynamic secondary ion mass-spectrometry (D-SIMS), atom probe tomography (APT), and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). These contacts are formed by high-temperature firing, which triggers the crystallization of SiCx, followed by a hydrogenation process to passivate remaining interfacial defects. Due to the difficulty of characterizing hydrogen at the nm-scale, the exact hydrogenation mechanisms have remained elusive. Using a correlative TEM-SIMS-APT analysis, we are able to locate hydrogen trap sites and quantify the hydrogen content. Deuterium (D), a heavier isotope of hydrogen, is used to distinguish hydrogen introduced during hydrogenation from its background signal. D-SIMS is used, due to its high sensitivity, to get an accurate deuterium-to-hydrogen ratio, which is then used to correct deuterium profiles extracted from APT reconstructions. This new methodology to quantify the concentration of trapped hydrogen in nm-scale structures sheds new insights on hydrogen distribution in technologically important photovoltaic materials.

Funding source: Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR) by the grants C18/MS/12661114 (MEMPHIS) and INTER/SNF/16/11536628 (NACHOS). The project received co-funding from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) under Grant no. 200021L_172924/1.

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