High temperature passivating contacts for c-Si based solar cells are intensively studied because of their potential in boosting solar cell efficiency while being compatible with industrial processes at high temperatures. In this work, the hydrogenation mechanism of fired passivating contacts (FPC) based on c-Si/SiOx/nc-SiCx(p) stacks was investigated. More specifically, the correlation between passivation and local re-distribution of hydrogen resulting from the application of different types of interfacial oxides (SiOx) and post-hydrogenation processes was analyzed. To do so, the applied processing sequence was interrupted at different stages in order to characterize the samples. To assess the hydrogen content, deuterium was introduced (alongside/instead of hydrogen) and secondary ion mass spectroscopy (SIMS) was used for depth profiling. Combining these results with lifetime measurements, the key role played by hydrogen in the passivation of defects at the c-Si/SiOx interface is discussed. The SIMS profiles show that hydrogen almost completely effuses out of the SiCx(p) during firing, but can be re-introduced by hydrogenation via forming gas anneal (FGA) or by release from a hydrogen containing layer such as SiNx:H. A pile-up of H at the c-Si/SiOx interface was observed and identified as a key element in the FPC''s passivation mechanism. Moreover, the samples hydrogenated with SiNx:H exhibited higher H content compared to those treated by FGA, resulting in higher iV(OC) values. Further investigations revealed that the doping of the SiCx layer does not affect the amount of interfacial defects passivated by the hydrogenation process presented in this work. Eventually, an effect of the oxide''s nature on passivation quality is evidenced. iV(OC) values of up to 706 mV and 720 mV were reached with FPC test structures using chemical and UV-O-3 tunneling oxides, respectively, and up to 739 mV using a reference passivation sample featuring a similar to 25 nm thick thermal oxide.
Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, vol. 200, p. 7, Sep 2019.