Silicon-based devices have dominated the industrial solar cell marketplace for several decades, thanks to the low bulk defect concentration and technological relevance of silicon substrates. This has led to an oversupply of dopant-diffused homojunction technologies, which suffer from significant performance losses at the metal-silicon contact interface. In response, the research community has developed carrier-selective heterojunction contacts, which separate the metal from the silicon absorber with heavily-doped silicon layers. These novel contacts provide the same asymmetrical conductivity as the diffused junction in the previous generations of silicon solar cells, but with less processing complexity and greater device performance. Still, the silicon based contacts often limit the performance of the heterojunction solar cell due to a lack of transparency, a high resistivity, and often limited processing space. An alternative approach to forming these heterojunction contacts is to use oxide materials, which offer a wider variety of material parameters than doped silicon contacts while offering greater optical transparency. The purpose of this dissertation is demonstrate the implementation of novel oxide-based carrier-selective contacts, deposited by atomic layer deposition, a soft deposition technique that offers greater control and uniformity than other traditional techniques. An overview of the history and current state-of-the-art for silicon photovoltaics is first given, followed by a chapter on solar cell device physics. The following chapters present demonstrations of ALD oxide materials for solar cell passivation, carrier-selectivity, and charge transport. The structure, processing, and properties of these materials are then used to demonstrate the performance of different solar cell devices followed by a forward-looking perspective on the potential of these materials in the industrial solar cell marketplace.


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Graduation Date





Davis, Kristopher


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Materials Science and Engineering

Degree Program

Materials Science and Engineering




CFE0008331; DP0023768



Release Date

December 2020

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)