A semiconductor device having a substrate, a conductive intermediate layer deposited onto said substrate, wherein the intermediate layer serves as a back electrode, an optical reflector, and an interface for impurity gettering, and a semiconductor layer deposited onto said intermediate layer, wherein the semiconductor layer has a grain size at least as large as the layer thickness, and preferably about ten times the layer thickness. The device is formed by depositing a metal layer on a substrate, depositing a semiconductive material on the metal-coated substrate to produce a composite structure, and then optically processing the composite structure by illuminating it with infrared electromagnetic radiation according to a unique time-energy profile that first produces pits in the backside surface of the semiconductor material, then produces a thin, highly reflective, low resistivity alloy layer over the entire area of the interface between the semiconductor material and the metal layer, and finally produces a grain-enhanced semiconductor layer. The time-energy profile includes increasing the energy to a first energy level to initiate pit formation and create the desired pit size and density, then ramping up to a second energy level in which the entire device is heated to produce an interfacial melt, and finally reducing the energy to a third energy level and holding for a period of time to allow enhancement in the grain size of the semiconductor layer.
CONTRACTUAL ORIGIN OF THE INVENTION
The United States Government has rights in this invention under Contract No. DE-AC0283CH10093 between the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a Division of Midwest Research Institute.