A thin film structure for photovoltaic applications includes a biaxially textured metal substrate; a seed layer epitaxially disposed on the metal substrate; a barrier layer comprising SrTiO.sub.3 epitaxially disposed on the seed layer; a cap layer comprising .gamma.-Al.sub.2O.sub.3 epitaxially disposed on the SrTiO.sub.3 barrier layer; and a crystalline silicon layer epitaxially disposed on the cap layer, where the cap layer comprises a volume fraction of biaxial texture of at least about 80% and the crystalline silicon layer does not include a metal silicide phase.
FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
 The present invention arose in the performance of Prime Contract No. DE-AC05-00OR22725 between UT-Battelle, LLC and the U.S. Department of Energy. The government has certain rights in the invention.