Investigation of dislocation cluster evolution during directional solidification of multicrystalline silicon
Dislocation clusters are the main crystal defects in multicrystalline silicon and are detrimental for solar cell efficiency. They were formed during the silicon ingot casting due to the relaxation of strain energy. The evolution of the dislocation clusters was studied by means of automated analysing tools of the standard wafer and cell production giving information about the cluster development as a function of the ingot height. Due to the observation of the whole wafer surface the point of view is of macroscopic nature. It was found that the dislocations tend to build clusters of high density which usually expand in diameter as a function of ingot height. According to their structure the dislocation clusters can be divided into light and dense clusters. The appearance of both types shows a clear dependence on the orientation of the grain growth direction. Additionally, a process of annihilation of dislocation clusters during the crystallization has been observed. To complement the macroscopic description, the dislocation clusters were also investigates by TEM. It is shown that the dislocations within the subgrain boundaries are closely arranged. Distances of 40-30 nm were found. These results lead to the conclusion that the dislocation density within the cluster structure is impossible to quantify by means of etch pit counting.