Electron energy-loss spectroscopy (EELS) is used to study p-doped layers in n-i-p amorphous thin film Si solar cells grown on steel foil substrates. For a solar cell in which an intrinsic amorphous hydrogenated Si (a-Si-H) layer is sandwiched between 10-nm-thick n-doped and p-doped a-Si:H layers, we assess whether core-loss EELS can be used to quantify the B concentration. We compare the shape of the measured B K edge with real space ab initio multiple scattering calculations and show that it is possible to separate the weak B K edge peak from the much stronger Si L edge fine structure by using log-normal fitting functions. The measured B concentration is compared with values obtained from secondary ion mass spectrometry, as well as with EELS results obtained from test samples that contain ∼200-nm-thick a-Si:H layers co-doped with B and C. We also assess whether changes in volume plasmon energy can be related to the B concentration and/or to the density of the material and whether variations of the volume plasmon line-width can be correlated with differences in the scattering of valence electrons in differently doped a-Si:H layers.

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