In this paper we present the realization of extremely thin absorber (ETA) solar cells employing conductive glass substrates functionalized with TiO2 microstructures produced by embossing. Nanocrystalline or compact TiO2 films on Indium doped tin oxide (ITO) glass substrates were embossed by pressing a silicon stamp containing a mu m size raised grid structure into the TiO2 by use of a hydraulic press (1 ton/50 cm(2)). The performance of these microstructured substrates in a ETA cell sensitized by a thermally evaporated or chemical bath deposited PbS film and completed by a PEDOT:PSS hole conductor layer and a Au counter electrode is compared to that of planar substrates. Surprisingly planar films produced better performance than micro-structured films. A simple model implying photoconductive shunting paths revealed by junction breakdown at negative bias under illumination is presented. (C) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.