Sixtron’s Silexium Coatings Could Reduce Solar Cell Light Induced Degradation

Sixtron Advanced Materials this week introduced its patent-pending Silexium technology, an antireflective passivation coating that the company said nearly eliminates Light Induced Degradation (LID) in solar cells.

A well known issue for solar cell and module manufacturers, LID reduces the efficiency of modules in the field by up to 5% in the first few hours of exposure to the sun reducing the net energy harvest. Sixtron said it has demonstrated that solar cells with a Silexium antireflective passivation coating exhibit at least 88% less LID than solar cells with traditional silane-based SiNx coatings.

The technology was developed by Sixtron at their development laboratory in Montreal with resulting cells benchmarked by the University Center for Excellence in Photovoltaics (UCEP) at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The precursor for Silexium films is delivered to industry standard plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) equipment by Sixtron’s SunBox silane-free gas generation system.

“With the release of our Silexium process technology, Sixtron is addressing a major concern of cell and module manufacturers,” said Bates Marshall, VP of sales and marketing for Sixtron. “Sixtron’s Silexium process provides solar cell manufacturers with the only simple, low-cost solution to improve the efficiency of their products while simultaneously reducing manufacturing costs by eliminating the pyrophoric hazards of silane.”

To minimize the effects of LID, manufacturers of high-efficiency monocrystalline cells have until now been forced to specify expensive high-grade boron-doped p-type Czochralski (CZ) wafers or use alternatives to the traditional wafer manufacturing process to try to maintain end-of-line efficiency once cells are deployed to the field.