By Philipp Rosenits, Fraunhofer ISE
The minority carrier lifetime is a key parameter for the performance of solar cells as it characterizes the electrical quality of the semiconductor material. Consequently, accurate and reliable methods to determine the minority carrier lifetime are of enormous interest for both practical process control and the evaluation of the potential and limitations of a specific cell concept. Due to its importance, many different lifetime measurement techniques have been developed and used over the past few decades. This paper aims to present and discuss the most common measurement methods on the one hand, while attempting to shed light on some recent developments on the other. The determination of the minority carrier lifetime of crystalline silicon thin-film (cSiTF) material is illustrated as an example of interest for those who are already familiar with standard lifetime characterization.