Novel highly transparent metal oxides to enable 25% conversion efficiency for industrially viable silicon solar cells


In this VENI project an experimental pathway is created to enable the fabrication of crystalline silicon (c-Si) solar cells with a conversion efficiency of more than 25% in an industrially viable way. This is done by developing highly transparent passivating contacts based on metal oxides which passivate the defects that are present at the c-Si surface and are electrically conductive to either electrons or holes that are generated by absorbed light and that finally lead to an electrical current.

This innovative approach is chosen, since the record efficiency c-Si record cells which currently exist typically employ a very complicated solar cell structure and/or involve expensive processing steps. Although those solar cells also have passivating contacts, the contacts are not optically transparent, so an extra gain can be realized by moving to fully transparent contacts. This underlines the strong need for industrially scalable, full-area, highly transparent passivating contacts which enable the fabrication of very efficient c-Si solar cells.

Metal oxides fabricated by atomic layer deposition (ALD) will be used in this project to form such transparent passivating contacts, since metal oxides are highly transparent while ALD enables a high degree of control over e.g. the film thickness and stoichiometry. The challenge for these materials is however to reach a high level of passivation of the c-Si surface and charge carrier selectivity at the same time via extrinsic doping and interface engineering.

My extensive experience with thin films of solar energy materials combined with the unique expertise and infrastructure related to ALD as they are present in the host research group will result in a thoroughly improved understanding of passivating contact materials. At the end of this project, the gained fundamental knowledge will provide valuable input for the industrial production of tomorrow’s highly efficient c-Si solar cells.


Project number


Main applicant

Dr. ir. J. Melskens

Affiliated with

Technische Universiteit Eindhoven, Faculteit Technische Natuurkunde, Plasma & Materials Processing (PMP)


01/10/2017 to 30/09/2020