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The University of Southampton

Research project: Chemical modification of silicon surfaces for solar cell applications

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This project looks at lower temperature passivation techniques for solar cells via the attachment of organic monolayers.  Successful applications could significantly improve the efficiency of solar cells.

Passivation of the silicon surface is achieved through removal of the oxide by hydrofluoric acid or ammonium fluoride, followed by a two step chlorination-alkylation technique involving Grignard reagents.  Due to the oxygen sensitivity of the silicon wafers and chemical reagents, reactions have to be carried out under an inert atmposphere.

Chemical passivation will allow us to bring third generation photovoltaic concepts into play.  These can theoretically exceed the current efficiency limits (known as the Shockley-Queisser limit) of around 31% for silicon based p-n junction solar photovoltaic systems

Example of a solar cell
Example of a solar cell
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