Hydrogenated amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) thin films have been considered for use in solar cell applications because of their significantly reduced cost. Their overall efficiency and stability, however, are less than that of their bulk crystalline counterparts. Limited work has been performed on solving the efficiency and stability issues of a-Si:H simultaneously. In this study, both surface texturing and crystallization on a-Si:H thin film are achieved through one-step femtosecond laser processing. The nanoscale conical and pillar-shaped spikes formed on the surface of a-Si:H films by femtosecond laser irradiation in both air and water are presented and enhanced light absorption is observed due to light trapping based on surface geometry changes, while the formation of a mixture of hydrogenated nanocrystalline silicon (nc-Si:H) and a-Si:H after crystallization suggests that the overall material stability can potentially be increased. The relationship among crystallinity, fluence, and scan speed is also discussed. Furthermore, a comparison of absorptance spectra for various surface morphologies is developed. Finally, the absorptance measurement across the solar spectrum shows that the combination of surface texturing and crystallization induced by femtosecond laser processing is very promising for a-Si:H thin film solar cell applications.

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