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Development of an Accelerated Weathering Protocol using Weatherometers for Reliability Study of Mini-Modules and Encapsulation Materials

Description: This paper describes the needs, reasoning, approaches, and technical details to establish a practical accelerated weathering test (AWT) protocol for indoor testing of the photothermal stability of encapsulation materials and encapsulated solar cells and minimodules.
Date: January 1, 2000
Creator: Pern, F. J.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Effects of Accelerated Exposure Testing (AET) Conditions on Performance Degradation of Solar Cells and Encapsulants

Description: The paper briefly summarizes the results from several accelerated exposure tests (AET) studies. Causes responsible for the photothermal instability of the encapsulated Si solar cells appear to be multiple and complex.
Date: January 1, 2000
Creator: Glick, S. H. & Pern, F. J.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Development of Damp-Heat Resistant Self-Primed EVA and Non-EVA Encapsulant Formulations at NREL

Description: Self-primed ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) and non-EVA (PMG) encapsulant formulations were developed that have greater resistance to damp heat exposure at 85 deg C and 85% relative humidity (RH) (in terms of adhesion strength to glass substrates) than a commonly used commercial EVA product. The self-primed EVA formulations were developed on the basis of high-performing glass priming formulations that have previously proven to significantly enhance the adhesion strength of unprimed and primed EVA films on glass substrates during damp heat exposure. The PMG encapsulant formulations were based on an ethylene-methylacrylate copolymer containing glycidyl methacrylate.
Date: November 1, 2005
Creator: Pern, F. J. & Jorgensen, G. J.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Photothermal Stability of Various Module Encapsulants and Effects of Superstrate and Substrate Materials Studied for PVMaT Sources

Description: This paper briefs the photothermal reliability studies we conducted on different encapsulation materials for some U.S. PV companies that are subcontractors of the Photovoltaic Manufacturing Technology (PVMaT) program.
Date: January 1, 2000
Creator: Pern, F. J. & Glick, S. H.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Accelerated Exposure Tests of Encapsulated Si Solar Cells and Encapsulation Materials

Description: We have conducted a series of accelerated exposure test (AET) studies for various crystalline-Si (c-Si) and amorphous-Si (a-Si) cell samples that were encapsulated with different superstrates, pottants, and substrates. Nonuniform browning patterns of ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) pottants were observed for glass/EVA/glass-encapsulated c-Si cell samples under solar simulator exposures at elevated temperatures. The polymer/polymer-configured laminates with Tedlar or Tefzel did not discolor because of photobleaching reactions, but yellowed with polyester or nylon top films. Delamination was observed for the polyester/EVA layers on a-Si minimodules and for a polyolefin-based thermoplastic pottant at high temperatures. For all tested c-Si cell samples, irregular changes in the current-voltage parameters were observed that could not be accounted for simply by the transmittance changes of the superstrate/pottant layers. Silicone-type adhesives used under UV-transmitting polymer top films were observed to cause greater cell current/efficiency loss than EVA or polyethylene pottants.
Date: October 8, 1998
Creator: Pern, F. J. & Glick, S. H.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Adhesion Strength Study of EVA Encapsulants on Glass Substrates

Description: An extensive peel-test study was conducted to investigate the various factors that may affect the adhesion strength of photovoltaic module encapsulants, primarily ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA), on glass substrates of various laminates based on a common configuration of glass/encapsulant/backfoil. The results show that"pure" or"absolute" adhesion strength of EVA-to-glass was very difficult to obtain because of tensile deformation of the soft, semi-elastic EVA layer upon pulling. A mechanically"strong enough" backing foil on the EVA was critical to achieving the"apparent" adhesion strength. Peel test method with a 90-degree-pull yielded similar results to a 180-degree-pull. The 90-degree-pull method better revealed the four stages of delamination failure of the EVA/backfoil layers. The adhesion strength is affected by a number of factors, which include EVA type, formulation, backfoil type and manufacturing source, glass type, and surface priming treatment on the glass surface or on the backfoil. Effects of the glass-cleaning method and surface texture are not obvious. Direct priming treatments used in the work did not improve, or even worsened, the adhesion. Aging of EVA by storage over~5 years reduced notably the adhesion strength. Lower adhesion strengths were observed for the blank (unformulated) EVA and non-EVA copolymers, such as poly(ethylene-co-methacrylate) (PEMA) or poly(ethylene-co-butylacrylate) (PEBA). Their adhesion strengths increased if the copolymers were cross-linked. Transparent fluoropolymer superstrates such as TefzelTM and DureflexTM films used for thin-film PV modules showed low adhesion strengths to the EVA at a level of~2 N/mm.
Date: May 1, 2003
Creator: Pern, F. J. & Glick, S. H.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Enhanced Adhesion of EVA Laminates to Primed Glass Substrates Subjected to Damp-Heat Exposure

Description: We investigated the effectiveness of glass-surface priming to promote enhanced adhesion of EVA laminates during damp-heat exposure at 85 C and 85% relative humidity. The primary objective was to develop advanced encapsulant formulations by incorporation of various primer formulations that exhibit improved adhesion during damp-heat exposure. Several primer formulations were identified that greatly enhanced the EVA adhesion strength, including to the extent that peeling could not be initiated, even for the laminates of the glass substrate/fast-cure EVA15295P/TPE backsheet (a Tedlar/polyester/EVA tri-laminate) that were exposed in a damp-heat test chamber for more than 750 h. The results show that a synergistic increase in the interfacial hydrophobicity, siloxane density, and cross-linking density are the key attributes to the improvement in the EVA adhesion strength.
Date: February 1, 2005
Creator: Pern, F. J. & Jorgensen, G. J.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Damp-Heat Induced Degradation of Transparent Conducting Oxides for Thin-Film Solar Cells: Preprint

Description: The stability of intrinsic and Al-doped single- and bi-layer ZnO for thin-film CuInGaSe2 solar cells, along with Al-doped Zn1-xMgxO alloy and Sn-doped In2O3 (ITO) and F-doped SnO2, was evaluated by direct exposure to damp heat (DH) at 85oC and 85% relative humidity. The results show that the DH-induced degradation rates followed the order of Al-doped ZnO and Zn1-xMgxO >> ITO > F:SnO2. The degradation rates of Al:ZnO were slower for films of higher thickness, higher substrate temperature in sputter-deposition, and with dry-out intervals. As inferred from the optical micro-imaging showing the initiation and propagation of degrading patterns and regions, the degradation behavior appears similar for all TCOs, despite the obvious difference in the degradation rate. A degradation mechanism is proposed to explain the temporal process involving thermal hydrolysis.
Date: May 1, 2008
Creator: Pern, F. J.; Noufi, R.; Li, X.; DeHart, C. & To, B.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Characterization of Damp-Heat Degradation of CuInGaSe2 Solar Cell Components and Devices by (Electrochemical) Impedance Spectroscopy: Preprint

Description: This work evaluated the capability of (electrochemical) impedance spectroscopy (IS, or ECIS as used here) to monitor damp heat (DH) stability of contact materials, CuInGaSe2 (CIGS) solar cell components, and devices. Cell characteristics and its variation of the CIGS devices were also examined by the ECIS.
Date: September 1, 2011
Creator: Pern, F. J. J. & Noufi, R.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Stability of CIGS Solar Cells and Component Materials Evaluated by a Step-Stress Accelerated Degradation Test Method: Preprint

Description: A step-stress accelerated degradation testing (SSADT) method was employed for the first time to evaluate the stability of CuInGaSe2 (CIGS) solar cells and device component materials in four Al-framed test structures encapsulated with an edge sealant and three kinds of backsheet or moisture barrier film for moisture ingress control. The SSADT exposure used a 15oC and then a 15% relative humidity (RH) increment step, beginning from 40oC/40%RH (T/RH = 40/40) to 85oC/70%RH (85/70) as of the moment. The voluminous data acquired and processed as of total DH = 3956 h with 85/70 = 704 h produced the following results. The best CIGS solar cells in sample Set-1 with a moisture-permeable TPT backsheet showed essentially identical I-V degradation trend regardless of the Al-doped ZnO (AZO) layer thickness ranging from standard 0.12 &#956;m to 0.50 &#956;m on the cells. No clear 'stepwise' feature in the I-V parameter degradation curves corresponding to the SSADT T/RH/time profile was observed. Irregularity in I-V performance degradation pattern was observed with some cells showing early degradation at low T/RH < 55/55 and some showing large Voc, FF, and efficiency degradation due to increased series Rs (ohm-cm2) at T/RH &#8805; 70/70. Results of (electrochemical) impedance spectroscopy (ECIS) analysis indicate degradation of the CIGS solar cells corresponded to increased series resistance Rs (ohm) and degraded parallel (minority carrier diffusion/recombination) resistance Rp, capacitance C, overall time constant Rp*C, and 'capacitor quality' factor (CPE-P), which were related to the cells? p-n junction properties. Heating at 85/70 appeared to benefit the CIGS solar cells as indicated by the largely recovered CPE-P factor. Device component materials, Mo on soda lime glass (Mo/SLG), bilayer ZnO (BZO), AlNi grid contact, and CdS/CIGS/Mo/SLG in test structures with TPT showed notable to significant degradation at T/RH &#8805; 70/70. At T/RH = 85/70, substantial blistering of BZO layers ...
Date: October 1, 2012
Creator: Pern, F. J. & Noufi, R.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Photothermal Stability of an E-Beam Pre-Crosslinked EVA Encapsulant and Its Performance Degradation on a-Si Submodules: Preprint

Description: Presented at the 2001 NCPV Program Review Meeting: Study of photothermal stability of special EVA encapsulant by accelerated exposure testing and analysis of causes of performance degradation on a-Si modules.
Date: October 1, 2001
Creator: Pern, F. J.; Watson, G. L.; Glick, S. H. & Raaff, J.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Modified EVA Encapsulant Formulations for Low Temperature Processing: Preprint

Description: Presented at the 2001 NCPV Program Review Meeting: We have developed several new ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) formulations modified on the basis of NREL patented EVA formulations [1]. The new formulations can be cured to a desired gel content of {approx}80% in the ambient at temperatures 20-30 C lower than the typical conditions in vacuum (i.e. {approx}150 C). Glass/glass laminates showed transmittance spectra that are essentially the same as that of EVA 15295P in the visible and NIR regions but higher in the UV region. Results of fluorescence analysis of the ambient-processed new EVA formulations showed the concentrations of the curing-generated {alpha},{beta}-unsaturated carbonyl chromophores, which are responsible for the UV induced EVA discoloration and photodegradation, were considerably lower than that of EVA 15295P, therefore suggesting a better photochemical stability of new EVA formulations.
Date: October 1, 2001
Creator: Mei, Z.; Pern, F. J. & Glick, S. H.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Performance Characterization and Remedy of Experimental CuInGaSe2 Mini-Modules: Preprint

Description: We employed current-voltage (I-V), quantum efficiency (QE), photoluminescence (PL), electroluminescence (EL), lock-in thermography (LIT), and (electrochemical) impedance spectroscopy (ECIS) to complementarily characterize the performance and remedy for two pairs of experimental CuInGaSe2 (CIGS) mini-modules. One pair had the three scribe-lines (P1/P2/P3) done by a single pulse-programmable laser, and the other had the P2/P3 lines by mechanical scribe. Localized QE measurements for each cell strip on all four mini-modules showed non-uniform distributions that correlated well with the presence of performance-degrading strips or spots revealed by PL, EL, and LIT imaging. Performance of the all-laser-scribed mini-modules improved significantly by adding a thicker Al-doped ZnO layer and reworking the P3 line. The efficiency on one of the all-laser-scribed mini-modules increased notably from 7.80% to 8.56% after the performance-degrading spots on the side regions along the cell array were isolated by manual scribes.
Date: July 1, 2011
Creator: Pern, F. J.; Yan, F.; Mansfield, L.; Glynn, S.; Rekow, M. & Murion, R.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Investigation of Some Transparent Metal Oxides as Damp Heat Protective Coating for CIGS Solar Cells: Preprint

Description: We investigated the protective effectiveness of some transparent metal oxides (TMO) on CIGS solar cell coupons against damp heat (DH) exposure at 85oC and 85% relative humidity (RH). Sputter-deposited bilayer ZnO (BZO) with up to 0.5-um Al-doped ZnO (AZO) layer and 0.2-um bilayer InZnO were used as 'inherent' part of device structure on CdS/CIGS/Mo/SLG. Sputter-deposited 0.2-um ZnSnO and atomic layer deposited (ALD) 0.1-um Al2O3 were used as overcoat on typical BZO/CdS/CIGS/Mo/SLG solar cells. The results were all negative -- all TMO-coated CIGS cells exhibited substantial degradation in DH. Combining the optical photographs, PL and EL imaging, SEM surface micro-morphology, coupled with XRD, I-V and QE measurements, the causes of the device degradations are attributed to hydrolytic corrosion, flaking, micro-cracking, and delamination induced by the DH moisture. Mechanical stress and decrease in crystallinity (grain size effect) could be additional degrading factors for thicker AZO grown on CdS/CIGS.
Date: October 1, 2012
Creator: Pern, F. J.; Yan, F.; Zaaunbrecher, B.; To, B.; Perkins, J. & Noufi, R.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Performance Degradation of Encapsulated Monocrystalline-Si Solar Cells upon Accelerated Weathering Exposures: Preprint

Description: Presented at 2001 NCPV Program Review Meeting: Performed accelerated exposures to study performance reliability/materials degradation of encapsulated c-Si cells using weathering protocols in 2 weatherometers. We have performed accelerated exposures to study performance reliability and materials degradation of a total of forty-one 3-cm x 3-cm monocrystalline-Si (c-Si) solar cells that were variously encapsulated using accelerated weathering protocols in two weatherometers (WOMs), with and without front specimen water sprays. Laminated cells (EVA/c-Si/EVA, ethylene vinyl acetate) with one of five superstrate/substrate variations and other features including with and without: (i) load resistance, (ii) Al foil light masks, and (iii) epoxy edge-sealing were studied. Three additional samples, omitting EVA, were exposed under a full-spectrum solar simulator, or heated in an oven, for comparison. After exposures, cell performance decreased irregularly, but to a relatively greater extent for samples exposed in WOM where light, heat, and humidity cycles were present (solar simulator or oven lacked such cycles). EVA laminates in the samples masked with aluminum (Al) foils were observed to retain moisture in WOM with water spray. Moisture effects caused substantial efficiency losses probably related in part to increasing series resistance.
Date: October 1, 2001
Creator: Glick, S. H.; Pern, F. J.; Watson, G. L.; Tomek, D. & Raaff, J.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Study on the Humidity Susceptibility of Thin-Film CIGS Absorber

Description: The report summarizes the research on the susceptibility of a thermally co-evaporated CuInGaSe2 (CIGS) thin-film absorber to humidity and its consequence on composition, morphology, electrical and electronic properties, and device efficiency.
Date: January 1, 2010
Creator: Pern, F. J.; Egaas, B.; To, B.; Jiang, C. S.; Li, J. V.; Glynn, S. et al.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Oxynitride Thin Film Barriers for PV Packaging

Description: Dielectric thin-film barrier and adhesion-promoting layers consisting of silicon oxynitride materials (SiOxNy, with various stoichiometry) were investigated. For process development, films were applied to glass (TCO, conductive SnO2:F; or soda-lime), polymer (PET, polyethylene terephthalate), aluminized soda-lime glass, or PV cell (a-Si, CIGS) substrates. Design strategy employed de-minimus hazard criteria to facilitate industrial adoption and reduce implementation costs for PV manufacturers or suppliers. A restricted process window was explored using dilute compressed gases (3% silane, 14% nitrous oxide, 23% oxygen) in nitrogen (or former mixtures, and 11.45% oxygen mix in helium and/or 99.999% helium dilution) with a worst-case flammable and non-corrosive hazard classification. Method employed low radio frequency (RF) power, less than or equal to 3 milliwatts per cm2, and low substrate temperatures, less than or equal to 100 deg C, over deposition areas less than or equal to 1000 cm2. Select material properties for barrier film thickness (profilometer), composition (XPS/FTIR), optical (refractive index, %T and %R), mechanical peel strength and WVTR barrier performance are presented.
Date: November 1, 2005
Creator: Glick, S. H.; delCueto, J. A.; Terwilliger, K. M.; Jorgensen, G. J.; Pankow, J. W.; Keyes, B. M. et al.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

CIGS P1, P2, P3 Scribing Processes using a Pulse Programmable Industrial Fiber Laser: Preprint

Description: We describe a novel set of laser processes for the CIGS P1, P2 and P3 scribing steps, the development of which has been enabled by a unique pulse-programmable fiber laser. We find that the unique pulse control properties of this 1064 nm wavelength laser have significant effects on the material removal dynamics of the various film layers in the CIGS material system. In the case of the P2 and P3 processes, the shaped pulses create new laser/material interaction effects that permit the material to be cleanly and precisely removed with zero Heat Affected Zone (HAZ) at the edges of the scribe. The new P2 and P3 processes we describe demonstrate the first use of infrared nanosecond laser pulses that eliminate the HAZ and the consequent localized compositional changes in the CIGS absorber material that result in poor shunt resistance. SEM micrographs and EDX compositional scans are presented. For the P1 scribe, we process the bi-layer molybdenum from the film side as well as through the glass substrate. Microscopic inspection and compositional analysis of the scribe lines are not sufficient to determine electrical and optical performance in working PV modules. Therefore, to demonstrate the applicability of the infrared pulse-programmable laser to all three scribing processes for thin-film CIGS, we fabricate small-size multiple-cell monolithically interconnected mini-modules in partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (Golden, Colorado). A total of four mini-modules are produced, two utilizing all laser scribing, and two with the P2 and P3 steps mechanically scribed (by a third party) for reference. Mini-module performance data measured at NREL is presented, and we also discuss the commercialization potential of the new single-laser CIGS scribing process. Finally we present a phenomenological model to describe this physics underlying this novel ablation process.
Date: October 1, 2010
Creator: Rekow, M.; Murison, R.; Panarello, T.; Dunsky, C.; Dinkel, C.; Nikumb, S. et al.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Diamond-Like Carbon Coatings as Encapsulants for Photovoltaic Solar Cells

Description: High-quality single-layer and bilayer diamond-like carbon (DLC) thin films are fabricated by two technologies, namely, ion-assisted plasma-enhanced deposition (IAPED) and electron cyclotron resonance (ECR) deposition. Deposition on various substrates, such as sapphires and solar cells, has been performed at low substrate temperatures (50 {approx} 80 C). The two deposition technologies allow good control over the growth conditions to produce DLC films with desired optical properties, thickness, and energy bandgap. The bilayer-structured DLC can be fabricated by using IAPED for the bottom layer followed by ECR for the top layer, or just by IAPED for both layers with different compositions. The DLC films have shown good spatial uniformity, density, microhardness, and adhesion strength. They exhibit excellent stability against attack by strong acids, prolonged damp-heat exposure at 85 C and 85% relative humidity, mechanical scratch, ultrasonication, and irradiation by ultraviolet (UV), protons, and electrons. When deposited on crystalline Si and GaAs solar cells in single-layer and/or bilayer structure, the DLC films not only serve as antireflection coating and protective encapsulant, but also improve the cell efficiencies.
Date: February 1, 2005
Creator: Pern, F. J.; Panosyan, Zh.; Gippius, A. A.; Kontsevoy, J. A.; Touryan, K.; Voskanyan, S. et al.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Influence of Damp Heat on the Electrical, Optical, and Morphological Properties of Encapsulated CuInGaSe2 Devices: Preprint

Description: CuInGaSe2 (CIGS) devices, encapsulated with different backsheets having different water vapor transmission rates (WVTR), were exposed to damp heat (DH) at 85C and 85% relative humidity (RH) and characterized periodically to understand junction degradation induced by moisture ingress. Performance degradation of the devices was primarily driven by an increase in series resistance within first 50 h of exposure, resulting in a decrease in fill factor and, accompanied loss in carrier concentration and widening of depletion width. Surface analysis of the devices after 700-h DH exposure showed the formation of Zn(OH)2 from hydrolysis of the Al-doped ZnO (AZO) window layer by the moisture, which was detrimental to the collection of minority carriers. Minority carrier lifetimes observed for the CIGS devices using time resolved photoluminescence (TRPL) remained relatively long after DH exposure. By etching the DH-exposed devices and re-fabricating with new component layers, the performance of reworked devices improved significantly, further indicating that DH-induced degradation of the AZO layer and/or the CdS buffer was the primary performance-degrading factor.
Date: August 1, 2011
Creator: Sundaramoorthy, R.; Pern, F. J.; Teeter, G.; Li, J. V.; Young, M.; Kuciauskas, D. et al.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Silicon Oxynitride Thin Film Barriers for PV Packaging (Poster)

Description: Dielectric, adhesion-promoting, moisture barriers comprised of silicon oxynitride thin film materials (SiOxNy with various material stoichiometric compositions x,y) were applied to: 1) bare and pre-coated soda-lime silicate glass (coated with transparent conductive oxide SnO2:F and/or aluminum), and polymer substrates (polyethylene terephthalate, PET, or polyethylene napthalate, PEN); plus 2) pre- deposited photovoltaic (PV) cells and mini-modules consisting of amorphous silicon (a-Si) and copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) thin-film PV technologies. We used plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) process with dilute silane, nitrogen, and nitrous oxide/oxygen gas mixtures in a low-power (< or = 10 milliW per cm2) RF discharge at ~ 0.2 Torr pressure, and low substrate temperatures < or = 100(degrees)C, over deposition areas ~ 1000 cm2. Barrier properties of the resulting PV cells and coated-glass packaging structures were studied with subsequent stressing in damp-heat exposure at 85(degrees)C/85% RH. Preliminary results on PV cells and coated glass indicate the palpable benefits of the barriers in mitigating moisture intrusion and degradation of the underlying structures using SiOxNy coatings with thicknesses in the range of 100-200 nm.
Date: October 3, 2006
Creator: del Cueto, J. A.; Glick, S. H.; Terwilliger, K. M.; Jorgensen, G. J.; Pankow, J. W.; Keyes, B. M. et al.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department