As Si-based solar cells approach their theoretical efficiency limit, further improvements in solar panel performance rely on improving the supporting materials in the panel. These materials, mostly glass and polymers, protect the cell from the environment and help enable high panel efficiency throughout decades of outdoor exposure. As new materials are developed, it is important to evaluate their stability and durability. At SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory we are working within the Durable Modules Consortium (DuraMAT) to develop materials forensics to understand how solar panel materials degrade in response to environmental stressors. We partner with industry and academia to identify materials that are most at-risk for failure within the current solar panel industry. We then utilize tools within the national laboratory network, such as small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), to characterize these solar panel materials at different stages of degradation. These data can provide understanding of module failures and degradation mechanisms, and in the long term, a path toward improved materials development and design.
Funding provided as part of the Durable Modules Consortium (DuraMAT), an Energy Materials Network Consortium funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, Solar Energy Technologies Office.