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Passivated emitter and rear cell - Devices, technology, and modeling

: Preu, R.; Lohmüller, E.; Lohmüller, S.; Saint-Cast, P.; Greulich, J.M.


Applied Physics Reviews 7 (2020), No.4, Art. 041315, 42 pp.
ISSN: 1931-9401
Journal Article
Fraunhofer ISE ()

Current studies reveal the expectation that photovoltaic (PV) energy conversion will become the front-runner technology to stem against the extent of global warming by the middle of this century. In 2019, the passivated emitter and rear cell (PERC) design has taken over the majority of global photovoltaic solar cell production. The objective of this paper is to review the fundamental physics of the underlying cell architecture, its development over the past few decades to an industry main stream product, as well as an in-depth characterization of current cells and the future potential of the device structure. The early development of PERCs was set by an intriguing series of improvements starting in 1989 and resulting in a long-standing energy conversion efficiency record of 25.0% set up in 1999. It took a decade of intense technological development to implement this structure as an upgrade to existing production lines and another decade to increase the efficiency of industrially manufactured cells to over 22%. Our analysis of state-of-the-art large-area screen-printed PERCs is based on the pilot-line technology in the Photovoltaic Technology Evaluation Center at the Fraunhofer ISE, which is assumed to be representative of current state-of-the art cell processing. The main recent cell efficiency improvements have been achieved thanks to fine line metallization taking advantage of the high quality emitter formation and passivation and to improvements in material quality. In order to enhance the energy yield of the PV modules, innovations in interconnection technology like multibusbar and shingling technology as well as bifaciality are supported by PERC developments. Over the years, ongoing improvements have been made in the understanding of PERCs by analytical and numerical modeling of these devices. We show a study based on 3D numerical modeling and an extrapolation of the PERC device structure and technology to achieve an efficiency of 26%. This result surpasses earlier investigations due to the combination of technology components, as further improved front contact and emitter design as well as rear passivation and mirrors. We expect that PERCs can also play a strong role at the bottom of multijunction solar cells and will defend a strong position in global PV production beyond the end of the now starting decade.