A thin silicon solar cell having a back dielectric passivation and rear contact with local back surface field is described. Specifically, the solar cell may be fabricated from a crystalline silicon wafer having a thickness from 50 to 500 micrometers. A barrier layer and a dielectric layer are applied at least to the back surface of the silicon wafer to protect the silicon wafer from deformation when the rear contact is formed. At least one opening is made to the dielectric layer. An aluminum contact that provides a back surface field is formed in the opening and on the dielectric layer. The aluminum contact may be applied by screen printing an aluminum paste having from one to 12 atomic percent silicon and then applying a heat treatment at 750 degrees Celsius.
 The U.S. Government has a paid-up nonexclusive, worldwide license in this invention and the right in limited circumstances to require the patent owner to license others on reasonable terms as provided for by the terms of contract No. DE-FC36-07GO17023 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy.