For crystalline-silicon solar cells, voltages close to the theoretical limit are nowadays readily achievable when using passivating contacts. Conversely, maximal current generation requires the integration of the electron and hole contacts at the back of the solar cell to liberate its front from any shadowing loss. Recently, the world-record efficiency for crystalline-silicon single-junction solar cells was achieved by merging these two approaches in a single device; however, the complexity of fabricating this class of devices raises concerns about their commercial potential. Here we show a contacting method that substantially simplifies the architecture and fabrication of back-contacted silicon solar cells. We exploit the surface-dependent growth of silicon thin films, deposited by plasma processes, to eliminate the patterning of one of the doped carrier-collecting layers. Then, using only one alignment step for electrode definition, we fabricate a proof-of-concept 9-cm2 tunnel-interdigitated back-contact solar cell with a certified conversion efficiency >22.5%.