Article

III–V-on-silicon solar cells reaching 33% photoconversion efficiency in two-terminal configuration

  • Nature Energyvolume 3pages326333 (2018)
  • doi:10.1038/s41560-018-0125-0
  • Download Citation
Received:
Accepted:
Published online:

Abstract

Silicon dominates the photovoltaic industry but the conversion efficiency of silicon single-junction solar cells is intrinsically constrained to 29.4%, and practically limited to around 27%. It is possible to overcome this limit by combining silicon with high-bandgap materials, such as III–V semiconductors, in a multi-junction device. Significant challenges associated with this material combination have hindered the development of highly efficient III–V/Si solar cells. Here, we demonstrate a III–V/Si cell reaching similar performances to standard III–V/Ge triple-junction solar cells. This device is fabricated using wafer bonding to permanently join a GaInP/GaAs top cell with a silicon bottom cell. The key issues of III–V/Si interface recombination and silicon's weak absorption are addressed using poly-silicon/SiO x passivating contacts and a novel rear-side diffraction grating for the silicon bottom cell. With these combined features, we demonstrate a two-terminal GaInP/GaAs//Si solar cell reaching a 1-sun AM1.5G conversion efficiency of 33.3%.

Additional access options:

Already a subscriber?  Log in  now or  Register  for online access.

Additional information

Publisher’s note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Change history

  • Update 06 April 2018

    In the version of this Article originally published, an error during the typesetting process led to the spurious text ‘NaN’ being added to the start of the subheading “Planar III–V//Si two-terminal solar cell performance” this text has now been removed.

References

  1. 1.

    Green, M. A. The path to 25% silicon solar cell efficiency: History of silicon cell evolution. Prog. Photovolt. Res. Appl. 17, 183–189 (2009).

  2. 2.

    Masuko, K. et al. Achievement of more than 25% conversion efficiency with crystalline silicon heterojunction solar cell. IEEE J. Photovolt. 4, 1433–1435 (2014).

  3. 3.

    Smith, D. D. et al. Toward the practical limits of silicon solar cells. IEEE J. Photovolt. 4, 1465–1469 (2014).

  4. 4.

    Glunz, S. W. et al. The irresistible charm of a simple current flow pattern – 25% with a solar cell featuring a full-area back contact. In Proc. 31st European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition 259–263 (2015); https://doi.org/10.4229/EUPVSEC20152015-2BP.1.1

  5. 5.

    Adachi, D., Hernández, J. L. & Yamamoto, K. Impact of carrier recombination on fill factor for large area heterojunction crystalline silicon solar cell with 25.1% efficiency. Appl. Phys. Lett. 107, 233506 (2015).

  6. 6.

    Polman, A., Knight, M., Garnett, E. C., Ehrler, B. & Sinke, W. C. Photovoltaic materials: Present efficiencies and future challenges. Science 352, aad4424 (2016).

  7. 7.

    Battaglia, C., Cuevas, A. & Wolf, S. D. High-efficiency crystalline silicon solar cells: status and perspectives. Energy Environ. Sci. 9, 1552–1576 (2016).

  8. 8.

    Richter, A. et al. n-Type Si solar cells with passivating electron contact: identifying sources for efficiency limitations by wafer thickness and resistivity variation. Sol. Energy Mater. Sol. Cells 173, 96–105 (2017).

  9. 9.

    Yoshikawa, K. et al. Silicon heterojunction solar cell with interdigitated back contacts for a photoconversion efficiency over 26%. Nat. Energy 2, 17032 (2017).

  10. 10.

    Green, M. A. et al. Solar cell efficiency tables (version 50). Prog. Photovolt. Res. Appl. 25, 668–676 (2017).

  11. 11.

    Shockley, W. & Queisser, H. J. Detailed balance limit of efficiency of p–n junction solar cells. J. Appl. Phys. 32, 510 (1961).

  12. 12.

    Richter, A., Hermle, M. & Glunz, S. W. Reassessment of the limiting efficiency for crystalline silicon solar cells. IEEE J. Photovolt. 3, 1184–1191 (2013).

  13. 13.

    Mitchell, B. et al. Four-junction spectral beam-splitting photovoltaic receiver with high optical efficiency. Prog. Photovolt. Res. Appl. 19, 61–72 (2011).

  14. 14.

    Polman, A. & Atwater, H. A. Photonic design principles for ultrahigh-efficiency photovoltaics. Nat. Mater. 11, 174–177 (2012).

  15. 15.

    Goldschmidt, J. C., Do, C., Peters, M. & Goetzberger, A. Spectral splitting module geometry that utilizes light trapping. Sol. Energy Mater. Sol. Cells 108, 57–64 (2013).

  16. 16.

    Green, M. A. et al. 40% efficient sunlight to electricity conversion. Prog. Photovolt. Res. Appl. 23, 685–691 (2015).

  17. 17.

    Sheng, X. et al. Printing-based assembly of quadruple-junction four-terminal microscale solar cells and their use in high-efficiency modules. Nat. Mater. 13, 593–598 (2014).

  18. 18.

    Mathews, I. et al. Adhesive bonding for mechanically stacked solar cells. Prog. Photovolt. Res. Appl. 23, 1080–1090 (2015).

  19. 19.

    Essig, S. et al. Raising the one-sun conversion efficiency of III–V/Si solar cells to 32.8% for two junctions and 35.9% for three junctions. Nat. Energy 2, 17144 (2017).

  20. 20.

    Albrecht, S. & Rech, B. Perovskite solar cells: On top of commercial photovoltaics. Nat. Energy 2, 16196 (2017).

  21. 21.

    Bush, K. A. et al. 23.6%-efficient monolithic perovskite/silicon tandem solar cells with improved stability. Nat. Energy 2, 17009 (2017).

  22. 22.

    Werner, J., Niesen, B. & Ballif, C. Perovskite/silicon tandem solar cells: marriage of convenience or true love story? – An overview. Adv. Mater. Interfaces 5, 1700731 (2018).

  23. 23.

    Essig, S. et al. Wafer-bonded GaInP/GaAs//Si solar cells with 30% efficiency under concentrated sunlight. IEEE J. Photovolt. 5, 977–981 (2015).

  24. 24.

    Baba, M. et al. Feasibility study of two-terminal tandem solar cells integrated with smart stack, areal current matching, and low concentration. Prog. Photovolt. Res. Appl. 25, 255–263 (2017).

  25. 25.

    Lee, K.-H. et al. Assessing material qualities and efficiency limits of III–V on silicon solar cells using external radiative efficiency. Prog. Photovolt. Res. Appl. 24, 1310–1318 (2016).

  26. 26.

    Cariou, R. et al. Monolithic two-terminal III-V//Si triple-junction solar cells with 30.2% efficiency under 1-sun AM1.5g. IEEE J. Photovolt. 7, 367–373 (2017).

  27. 27.

    Yu, Z. J., Leilaeioun, M. & Holman, Z.. Selecting tandem partners for silicon solar cells. Nat. Energy 1, 16137 (2016).

  28. 28.

    Bolkhovityanov, Y. B. & Pchelyakov, O. P. GaAs epitaxy on Si substrates: modern status of research and engineering. Phys. Usp. 51, 437 (2008).

  29. 29.

    Umeno, M., Kato, T., Egawa, T., Soga, T. & Jimbo, T. High efficiency AlGaAs/Si tandem solar cell over 20%. Sol. Energy Mater. Sol. Cells 41–42, 395–403 (1996).

  30. 30.

    Grassman, T. J., Chmielewski, D. J., Carnevale, S. D., Carlin, J. A. & Ringel, S. A. GaAs0.75P0.25/Si dual-junction solar cells grown by MBE and MOCVD. IEEE J. Photovolt. 6, 326–331 (2016).

  31. 31.

    Ohlmann, J. et al. Influence of metal-organic vapor phase epitaxy reactor environment on the silicon bulk lifetime. IEEE J. Photovolt. 6, 1668–1672 (2016).

  32. 32.

    Feldmann, F., Bivour, M., Reichel, C., Hermle, M. & Glunz, S. W. Passivated rear contacts for high-efficiency n-type Si solar cells providing high interface passivation quality and excellent transport characteristics. Sol. Energy Mater. Sol. Cells 120, 270–274 (2014).

  33. 33.

    Feldmann, F., Reichel, C., Müller, R. & Hermle, M. The application of poly-Si/SiOx contacts as passivated top/rear contacts in Si solar cells. Sol. Energy Mater. Sol. Cells 159, 265–271 (2017).

  34. 34.

    Hauser, H. et al. Honeycomb texturing of silicon via nanoimprint lithography for solar cell applications. IEEE J. Photovolt. 2, 114–122 (2012).

  35. 35.

    Tucher, N., Höhn, O., Hauser, H., Müller, C. & Bläsi, B. Characterizing the degradation of PDMS stamps in nanoimprint lithography. Microelectron. Eng. 180, 40–44 (2017).

  36. 36.

    Yablonovitch, E., Gmitter, T., Swanson, R. M. & Kwark, Y. H. A 720 mV open circuit voltage SiOx:c‐Si:SiOx double heterostructure solar cell. Appl. Phys. Lett. 47, 1211–1213 (1985).

  37. 37.

    Gan, J. Y. & Swanson, R. M. Polysilicon emitters for silicon concentrator solar cells. In Proc. IEEE Conference on Photovoltaic Specialists Vol. 1, 245–250 (1990); https://doi.org/10.1109/PVSC.1990.111625

  38. 38.

    Yan, D., Cuevas, A., Bullock, J., Wan, Y. & Samundsett, C. Phosphorus-diffused polysilicon contacts for solar cells. Sol. Energy Mater. Sol. Cells 142, 75–82 (2015).

  39. 39.

    Peibst, R. et al. Working principle of carrier selective poly-Si/c-Si junctions: Is tunnelling the whole story? Sol. Energy Mater. Sol. Cells 158, 60–67 (2016).

  40. 40.

    Flotgen, C., Razek, N., Dragoi, V. & Wimplinger, M. Novel surface preparation methods for covalent and conductive bonded interfaces fabrication. ECS Trans. 64, 103–110 (2014).

  41. 41.

    Häussler, D. et al. Aberration-corrected transmission electron microscopy analyses of GaAs/Si interfaces in wafer-bonded multi-junction solar cells. Ultramicroscopy 134, 55–61 (2013).

  42. 42.

    Campbell, P. & Green, M. A. Light trapping properties of pyramidally textured surfaces. J. Appl. Phys. 62, 243–249 (1987).

  43. 43.

    Larionova, Y. et al. On the recombination behavior of p+-type polysilicon on oxide junctions deposited by different methods on textured and planar surfaces: On the recombination behavior of p+-type polysilicon on oxide junctions. Phys. Status Solidi A 214, 1700058 (2017).

  44. 44.

    Atwater, H. A. & Polman, A. Plasmonics for improved photovoltaic devices. Nat. Mater. 9, 205–213 (2010).

  45. 45.

    Peters, M., Rüdiger, M., Hauser, H., Hermle, M. & Bläsi, B. Diffractive gratings for crystalline silicon solar cells—optimum parameters and loss mechanisms. Prog. Photovolt. Res. Appl. 20, 862–873 (2012).

  46. 46.

    Eisenlohr, J. et al. Rear side sphere gratings for improved light trapping in crystalline silicon single junction and silicon-based tandem solar cells. Sol. Energy Mater. Sol. Cells 142, 60–65 (2015).

  47. 47.

    Eisenlohr, J. et al. Efficiency increase of crystalline silicon solar cells with nanoimprinted rear side gratings for enhanced light trapping. Sol. Energy Mater. Sol. Cells 155, 288–293 (2016).

  48. 48.

    Hauser, H. et al. Development of nanoimprint processes for photovoltaic applications. J. Micro/Nanolithogr. MEMS MOEMS 14, 031210 (2015).

  49. 49.

    King, R. R. et al. Band gap-voltage offset and energy production in next-generation multijunction solar cells. Prog. Photovolt. Res. Appl. 19, 797–812 (2011).

  50. 50.

    Taguchi, M. et al. 24.7% record efficiency HIT solar cell on thin silicon wafer. IEEE J. Photovolt. 4, 96–99 (2014).

  51. 51.

    Wolf, A. J. et al. Origination of nano- and microstructures on large areas by interference lithography. Microelectron. Eng. 98, 293–296 (2012).

  52. 52.

    Shaw, J. M., Gelorme, J. D., LaBianca, N. C., Conley, W. E. & Holmes, S. J. Negative photoresists for optical lithography. IBM J. Res. Dev. 41, 81–94 (1997).

  53. 53.

    Meusel, M. et al. Spectral response measurements of monolithic GaInP/Ga(In)As/Ge triple-junction solar cells: measurement artifacts and their explanation. Prog. Photovolt. Res. Appl. 11, 499–514 (2003).

  54. 54.

    Siefer, G., Gandy, T., Schachtner, M., Wekkeli, A. & Bett, A. W. Improved grating monochromator set-up for EQE measurements of multi-junction solar cells. In Proc. 2013 IEEE 39th Photovoltaic Specialists Conference (PVSC) 0086–0089 (2013); https://doi.org/10.1109/PVSC.2013.6744105

  55. 55.

    Meusel, M., Adelhelm, R., Dimroth, F., Bett, A. W. & Warta, W. Spectral mismatch correction and spectrometric characterization of monolithic III–V multi-junction solar cells. Prog. Photovolt. Res. Appl. 10, 243–255 (2002).

  56. 56.

    Rau, U. Reciprocity relation between photovoltaic quantum efficiency and electroluminescent emission of solar cells. Phys. Rev. B 76, 085303 (2007).

  57. 57.

    Roensch, S., Hoheisel, R., Dimroth, F. & Bett, A. W. Subcell I–V characteristic analysis of GaInP/GaInAs/Ge solar cells using electroluminescence measurements. Appl. Phys. Lett. 98, 251113 (2011).

  58. 58.

    Kirchartz, T. et al. Internal voltages in GaInP∕GaInAs∕Ge multijunction solar cells determined by electroluminescence measurements. Appl. Phys. Lett. 92, 123502 (2008).

Download references

Acknowledgements

The authors thank the Fraunhofer ISE employees E. Oliva, A. Schütte, R. Koch, M. Graf, E. Schäffer, M. Schachtner, E. Fehrenbacher, A. Wekkeli, K. Wagner, S. Stättner, R. Freitas, A. Lösel, A. Leimenstoll, F. Schätzle and V. Klinger for helping with device processing and characterization. We also thank T. Höche and C. Patzig from Fraunhofer IMWS for the TEM studies. We further acknowledge financial support through the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie HISTORIC grant agreement no. 655272 and the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy through the project PoTaSi (no. 0324247). The development of the Si bottom cell received funding through the EU project NanoTandem under grant agreement no. 641023. This article reflects only the authors' view and the funding agency is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

Author information

Author notes

    • Romain Cariou

    Present address: Université Grenoble Alpes, CEA, LITEN, INES, Grenoble, France

Affiliations

  1. Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, Freiburg, Germany

    • Romain Cariou
    • , Jan Benick
    • , Frank Feldmann
    • , Oliver Höhn
    • , Hubert Hauser
    • , Paul Beutel
    • , Benedikt Bläsi
    • , David Lackner
    • , Martin Hermle
    • , Gerald Siefer
    • , Stefan W. Glunz
    • , Andreas W. Bett
    •  & Frank Dimroth
  2. Laboratory for Photovoltaic Energy Conversion, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany

    • Frank Feldmann
    •  & Stefan W. Glunz
  3. EV Group E. Thallner GmbH, St Florian am Inn, Austria

    • Nasser Razek
    •  & Markus Wimplinger

Authors

  1. Search for Romain Cariou in:

  2. Search for Jan Benick in:

  3. Search for Frank Feldmann in:

  4. Search for Oliver Höhn in:

  5. Search for Hubert Hauser in:

  6. Search for Paul Beutel in:

  7. Search for Nasser Razek in:

  8. Search for Markus Wimplinger in:

  9. Search for Benedikt Bläsi in:

  10. Search for David Lackner in:

  11. Search for Martin Hermle in:

  12. Search for Gerald Siefer in:

  13. Search for Stefan W. Glunz in:

  14. Search for Andreas W. Bett in:

  15. Search for Frank Dimroth in:

Contributions

R.C. carried out experiments in the laboratory, theoretical modelling and evaluation of the data; R.C. and J.B. led the process development and optimization. F.F., M.H. and S.W.G. developed the passivating and carrier-selective contact Si bottom cell; S.W.G. also performed the analysis of spectrum utilization in Fig. 5d. P.B. improved the III–V layer structure and performed the epitaxy growth. D.L. performed band structure simulations and coordinated the epitaxy research. N.R. performed the wafer bonding and coordinated the TEM analysis; M.W. supervised the wafer bonding collaboration and led the design of the EVG580 ComBond cluster tool. O.H. and H.H. proposed the idea of the specific rear-side diffraction grating and developed and fabricated the crossed grating together. B.B. supported the understanding and fine-tuning of the rear-side grating and coordinated the photonic light-trapping research. G.S. supervised the cell calibration and ensured the accuracy of the measurements. A.W.B. supported discussions and editing of the manuscript and F.D. developed the concept of two-terminal III–V//Si tandem cells by direct wafer bonding and contributed to many aspects of the cell design and process optimization. All co-authors participated in the discussions and improvements of this manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors N. Razek and M. Wimplinger are employed by EV Group E. Thallner GmbH, 4782 St Florian am Inn, Austria, which produces the wafer bonding machine used in this study.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Romain Cariou.

Supplementary information

  1. Supplementary Information

    Supplementary Figures 1–4 and Supplementary Table 1