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The Australian National University


Various characterisation techniques are available and used in our laboratories for photovoltaic research and development applications. Such techniques yield important insights into the performance and operation of solar cells, as well as the physical, electrical, and optical properties of the materials used in their production. By comparing with modelled predictions, defects and opportunities for efficiency enhancements may be identified.

A frequently-used characterisation parameter is the carrier lifetime – the average time it takes for the light-generated charge carriers to recombine. A high carrier lifetime is obtained by using high-quality silicon wafers with effective surface passivation, and corresponds to a high open-circuit voltage, which is necessary to produce efficient solar cells. Lifetime measurement facilities in our laboratories include QSSPC (quasi-steady-state photoconductance) carrier lifetime testers, and a photoluminescence imager for spatially-resolved lifetime measurements. Photoconductance and photoluminescence techniques can also be used to characterise other parameters, including carrier concentrations and defects such as interstitial iron and boron-oxygen pairs.

Additionally, optical characterisation is used to measure the coupling of light into the photovoltaic material and to analyse the thickness and composition of passivating surface films. A range of techniques are also available to probe the dopant concentrations within the materials, and solar simulators measure the final device characteristics of photovoltaic cells and modules under a range of operating conditions.

Characterisation facilities are included in our list of research equipment, with further characterisation equipment available through ongoing collaborations with a number of institutions.


Prof Andreas Cuevas
Dr Daniel MacDonald

PL image.

PL image of a quarter 120x120mm boron phosphorus compensated CZ wafer under surface-limited recombination conditions showing abrupt variations in dopant distribution due to a difference in the boron and phosphorus segregation coefficients.

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