We have developed an all-laser processing technique by means of two industrially-relevant continuous-wave fiber lasers operating at 1070 nm. This approach is capable of both substrate heating with a large defocused beam and material processing with a second scanned beam, and is suitable for a variety of photovoltaic applications. We have demonstrated this technique for rapid crystallization of thin film (~10 μm) silicon on glass, which is a low cost alternative to wafer-based solar cells. We have also applied this technique to wafer silicon to control dopant diffusion at the surface region where the focused line beam rapidly melts the substrate that then regrows epitaxially. Finite element simulations have been used to model the melt depth as a function of preheat temperature and line beam power. This process is carried out in tens of seconds for an area approximately 10 cm2 using only about 1 kW of total optical power and is readily scalable. In this paper, we will discuss our results with both c-Si wafers and thin-film silicon.
Line-focus diode laser is applied to advance crystalline silicon thin-film solar cell technology. Three new processes have
been developed: 1) defect annealing/dopant activation; 2) dopant diffusion; 3) liquid phase crystallisation of thin films. The former two processes are applied to either create a solar cell device from pre-crystallised films or improve its
performance while reducing the maximum temperature experienced by substrate. The later process is applied to amorphous silicon films to obtain high crystal and electronic quality material for thin-film solar cells with higher efficiency potential. Defect annealing/dopant activation and dopant diffusion in a few micron thick poly-Si films are
achieved by scanning with line-focus 808 nm diode laser beam at 15-24 kW/cm2 laser power and 2~6 ms exposure. Temperature profile in the film during the treatment is independent from laser power and exposure but determined by beam shape. Solar cell open-circuit voltages of about 500 mV after such laser treatments is similar or even higher than voltages after standard rapid-thermal treatments while the highest temperature experienced by glass is 300C lower. Amorphous silicon films can be melted and subsequently liquid-phase crystallised by a single scan of line laser beam at about 20 kW/cm2 power and 10-15 ms exposure. Solar cells made of laser-crystallised material achieve 557 mV opencircuit voltage and 8.4% efficiency. Electronic quality of such cells is consistent with efficiencies exceeding 13% and it is currently limited by research-level simplified cell metallisation.