Variation of dislocation etch-pit geometry: An indicator of bulk microstructure and recombination activity in multicrystalline silicon

S. Castellanos, Maulid Kivambe, J. Hofstetter, M. Rinio, B. Lai, T. Buonassisi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Citations (Scopus)


Dislocation clusters in multicrystalline silicon limit solar cell performance by decreasing minority carrier diffusion length. Studies have shown that the recombination strength of dislocation clusters can vary by up to two orders of magnitude, even within the same wafer. In this contribution, we combine a surface-analysis approach with bulk characterization techniques to explore the underlying root cause of variations in recombination strength among different clusters. We observe that dislocation clusters with higher recombination strength consist of dislocations with a larger variation of line vector, correlated with a higher degree of variation in dislocation etch-pit shapes (ellipticities). Conversely, dislocation clusters exhibiting the lowest recombination strength contain mostly dislocations with identical line vectors, resulting in very similar etch-pit shapes. The disorder of dislocation line vector in high-recombination clusters appears to be correlated with impurity decoration, possibly the cause of the enhanced recombination activity. Based on our observations, we conclude that the relative recombination activity of different dislocation clusters in the device may be predicted via an optical inspection of the distribution and shape variation of dislocation etch pits in the as-grown wafer.

Original languageEnglish
Article number183511
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 14 May 2014
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

Cite this