Local Enhancement of Dopant Diffusion from Polycrystalline Silicon Passivating Contacts

ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2022 Apr 20;14(15):17975-17986. doi: 10.1021/acsami.2c01801. Epub 2022 Apr 5.


Passivating contacts consisting of heavily doped polycrystalline silicon (poly-Si) and ultrathin interfacial silicon oxide (SiOx) films enable the fabrication of high-efficiency Si solar cells. The electrical properties and working mechanism of such poly-Si passivating contacts depend on the distribution of dopants at their interface with the underlying Si substrate of solar cells. Therefore, this distribution, particularly in the vicinity of pinholes in the SiOx film, is investigated in this work. Technology computer-aided design (TCAD) simulations were performed to study the diffusion of dopants, both phosphorus (P) and boron (B), from the poly-Si film into the Si substrate during the annealing process typically applied to poly-Si passivating contacts. The simulated 2D doping profiles indicate enhanced diffusion under pinholes, yielding deeper semicircular regions of increased doping compared to regions far removed from the pinholes. Such regions with locally enhanced doping were also experimentally demonstrated using high-resolution (5-10 nm/pixel) scanning spreading resistance microscopy (SSRM) for the first time. The SSRM measurements were performed on a variety of poly-Si passivating contacts, fabricated using different approaches by multiple research institutes, and the regions of doping enhancement were detected on samples where the presence of pinholes had been reported in the related literature. These findings can contribute to a better understanding, more accurate modeling, and optimization of poly-Si passivating contacts, which are increasingly being introduced in the mass production of Si solar cells.

Keywords: Sentaurus Process TCAD; dopant diffusion; oxide; pinholes; poly-Si passivating contacts; scanning spreading resistance microscopy.