A Lab Experience-Fabrication and Characterization of Silicon Solar Cells

Adam Zemanek a, Iulian Gherasoiu b

a Electrical and Computer Engineering, b Electrical Engineering Technology, College of Engineering, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, Utica, NY, USA

The solar cells are devices that enable the development of clean and robust energy sources using the virtually inexhaustible energy of the Sun. Students in the quest to become familiar with the physics, the fabrication and the technological integration of the solar cells are often limited by safety concerns that prevent the inclusion of the solar cell fabrication as a laboratory learning experience in the academic environment. One of the difficulties inherent to this process is the need for chemical processing using hydrofluoric acid (HF). Other elements such as phosphorous (P) or boron (B) are also required for the doping of silicon. Their source chemicals are typically toxic and safety procedures need to be followed while using and disposing them.
The goal of this research is to demonstrate the fabrication of functional silicon solar cells without the use of HF for the etch of the silicon oxide layers and with the use of aluminum (Al) for silicon doping.
Thus, the work presented is a first step in demonstrating the use of alternative chemistry and processing methods that enable the safe and successful lab fabrication of the silicon solar cells.