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OPTICAL CHARACTERISATION OF MODULE ENCAPSULANTS AND FRONTSHEETS FOR SELECTIVE EMITTER APPLICATIONS

Nitin Nampalli, Matthew Edwards, Brett Hallam, David Jordan
University of New South Wales, Sydney 2052 AUSTRALIA

Selective emitter cell technologies are known to
have higher short circuit current densities owing to
increased Internal Quantum Efficiency (IQE)
particularly in the short-wavelength region of the solar
spectrum. However, much of this short-wavelength light
(380 nm and below) is lost to absorption in the EVA
and glass after encapsulation of the cells. Fig. 1 shows
that of the AM1.5 spectrum usable by a silicon solar cell
(280-1200 nm), the difference between the insolation
incident on the front-sheet and that transmitted to the
cell is about 11.5% for a standard EVA/Glass stack.
One method to reduce the resulting loss in module
current is by using encapsulants and front-sheets that are
more transparent in short wavelengths [1][2]. In this
investigation, the optical performance of a number of
commercial encapsulants and front-sheets is compared
based on transmittance studies and IQE measurements
of selective emitter cells encapsulated using these
materials.

Optical Characteristics of Standard EVA / Glass Laminate
300

400

5 x 5 cm2 laminates consisting of a front-sheet
(either glass or ETFE) and an encapsulant are fabricated
using a Spire laminator using the recommended
lamination parameters. A Perkin Elmer UV-Vis-NIR
Spectrometer set up with an integrating sphere is used to
measure the transmittance of the laminate stack in the

600

700

800

900

1000

1100

1200

75

50

25

(Transmittance of Standard EVA / Glass laminate)
(Optical Path: Air - Glass - EVA - Air)

0
1.5

Transmission (Area1 - Area2)
= 11.46%
=
Loss
Area1

Area1
2
(837 W/m )

1.0

Area2
2
(740 W/m )

0.5

Insolation incident on laminate
Insolation transmitted to cell

0.0
100
80
60

Area1
(86%)

Area2
(72%)

IQE Loss =

(Area1 - Area2)
= 15.8%
Area1

40

IQE before encapsulation
IQE after encapsulation

20

2. EXPERIMENTAL SETUP

500

100

Transmittance
(%)

1. INTRODUCTION

Insolation
-2
-1
(Wm nm )

This study investigates the optical characteristics of
various commercial encapsulants (EVA, PVB and
silicones) and front-sheet materials (solar glass and
ETFE) to evaluate their suitability for selective emitter
module encapsulation. Transmittance and IQE
measurements are used to demonstrate that improved
EVA (EVA3) and PVB (PVB2) formulations can
reduce post-encapsulation IQE loss to 9.4% and 8.7%
respectively in glass-based laminates (compared to
16.3% for standard EVA/glass). The use of ETFE frontsheets with improved PVB (PVB2) and liquid silicone
(SIL4) encapsulants further reduced IQE losses to 5.5%
and 2.8% respectively. Further mechanical and
environmental stability testing needs to be done to
determine if the presented material combinations are
suitable for commercial modules.

280 - 1200 nm range. The AM1.5 insolation in this
wavelength range is then multiplied by the sample
transmittance to estimate the spectral power transmitted
to the cell. From this, the associated transmission loss is
estimated. Fig. 2 lists all the encapsulant/front-sheet
combinations tested.
Four
promising
encapsulant/front-sheet
combinations are identified based on transmission losses
and are then used to encapsulate laser-doped selective
emitter (LDSE) cells fabricated at UNSW. Two
reference samples laminated with standard EVA and
glass are also prepared. Note that no back-sheets are
used in the encapsulation process so as to leave the rear
surface of the cell exposed for QE measurements. Fig. 3
lists the selected combinations used to encapsulate
LDSE cells.
The IQE of the cells is measured before and after
encapsulation. IQE loss is then quantified by calculating
the difference in areas under the IQE curves expressed
as a fraction of the area under the pre-encapsulation IQE
curve. As an example, Fig. 1 illustrates the graphical
calculation of transmission loss and IQE loss for a
standard EVA/glass laminate.

IQE
(%)

ABSTRACT

0

300

400

500

600

700

800

900

1000

1100

1200

Wavelength (nm)

Fig. 1 Optical characteristics of a standard EVA / Glass
laminate showing sample transmittance, fractions of AM1.5
spectrum incident (black) and transmitted (red) by the sample,
and IQE of a selective emitter cell before (black) and after
encapsulation (red) with standard EVA/Glass. Areas under the
transmittance and IQE curves are used to calculate the
transmission loss and IQE loss respectively.

8% 16.5% respectively). Another observation is that glass is found to lower the REFERENCES [1] G.2 mm). However.8%). Hahn. 3 shows that cells encapsulated with SIL4. This is especially evident in the case of SIL4/Glass and PVB2/Glass. transmittance in the 280-320 nm range. E.7% and 9.Encapsulant .5% 12.9% 8. EVA3 and PVB2.0% and 8. The SIL4/ETFE combination shows the least IQE loss while EVA3. Encaps. Valencia. The limitation of glass as a front-sheet is also evident from the PVB2/ETFE curve (IQE loss: 5.7%).0% 12. further evaluation of impact resistance and weathering will be needed to confirm if ETFE is a suitable front-sheet material.8% and 9. PVB2 and SIL4 have a better transmittance in short wavelengths compared to other tested encapsulants.7% and 9. Loss EVA2/Glass EVA3/Glass EVA5/Glass PVB1/Glass PVB2/Glass PVB4/Glass SIL2/Glass SIL4/Glass 11.9% 9. Wavelength (nm) Fig.0% 9. Loss EVA2/ETFE EVA3/ETFE EVA5/ETFE PVB1/ETFE PVB2/ETFE PVB4/ETFE SIL2/ETFE SIL4/ETFE 12. Fig.7% 5.1% 8. IQE losses were lowest for the ETFE laminated cells. Proceedings of the 25th EU PVSEC. 2010) p. A thorough study of environmental stability and mechanical properties will also be required for all materials tested in this investigation to determine their suitability for commercial selective emitter modules.3% for EVA2/Glass.Air). Among cells encapsulated using glass front-sheets.8% Laminate Trans.6% 12. While this demonstrates the potential of ETFE from an optical standpoint. PVB2/Glass and EVA3/Glass show a significant improvement over the reference sample (EVA2/Glass) with losses of 8. 2 that EVA3. [2] N. Transmission is particularly reduced in PVB2/Glass and SIL4/Glass due to strong absorption in glass below 320 nm.5% 10. EVA3 and PVB2 have higher IQE post-encapsulation in short wavelengths compared to standard EVA (EVA2).03 mm) compared to glass (3. SIL4/ETFE (2. (IEEE. These results were expected given the higher transmittance of the corresponding laminates in Fig. which show higher transmission losses (8.7% 8. Transmittance of Encapsulant/Frontsheet laminates Transmittance (%) 100 80 Laminate Trans. 2 (8.2% 14.5%). 2 Transmittance plots for all tested encapsulant/frontsheet combinations.7%) in Fig.4% and 8. two promising encapsulant materials.0% 60 40 Glass Laminates 20 Glass: PPG Solarphire 0 Transmittance (%) 80 60 40 ETFE Laminates 20 ETFE: DuPont Tefzel 0 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 Encapsulant Name STR Photocap 15455P STR Photocap 15505P Lanxess Levamelt Kuraray Trosifol R40 *Confidential Dupont PV5212 WackerChemie Tectosil ACC Silicones PV2218 Encapsulant Name STR Photocap 15455P STR Photocap 15505P Lanxess Levamelt Kuraray Trosifol R40 *Confidential Dupont PV5212 WackerChemie Tectosil ACC Silicones PV2218 1000 1100 1200 Wavelength (nm) Fig. “Status of Selective Emitter Technology”. “Improved Spectral Response of Silicone Encapsulated Photovoltaic Modules”.3. Proceedings of the 35th Photovoltaics Specialists Conference. RESULTS Fig. Powell et al.5% 9.8%) and PVB2/ETFE (5. IQE losses are lower still for cells with ETFE frontsheets as can be seen with SIL4/ETFE. 3 IQE curves of selective emitter cells before and after encapsulation. 2010) p.8% 1000 1100 1200 In this study. 2 lists all the encapsulant/front-sheet combinations tested in the study and shows the associated transmittance curves and transmission losses (Optical path: Air . 3 lists the specific encapsulant/front-sheet combinations chosen for LDSE cell encapsulation and shows the associated IQE curves and IQE losses. 1091. EVA3. (WIP.4% respectively for PVB2/Glass and EVA3/Glass and 16.8% 11. which has the smallest IQE loss of all the tested cells (2. Fig. were identified for glass-based selective emitter module laminates based on a study of cell IQE losses (9.7% 11. PVB2 on glass show marked improvements over the standard EVA2/Glass combination. it must be noted that the higher transmittance of ETFE may be due to the lower thickness of the ETFE film (0.0% 12.5% respectively) compared to SIL4/ETFE and PVB2/ETFE (8.5% 8. It can be seen from Fig. A thorough analysis of mechanical properties and environmental stability is required before firm conclusions can be drawn regarding the suitability of these materials for selective emitter encapsulation. 2. Frontsheet 60 EVA2 / Glass EVA2 / Glass PVB2 / Glass PVB2 / ETFE EVA3 / Glass SIL4 / ETFE 40 20 0 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 IQE Loss 15. 3.5%) compared to the PVB2/Glass curve (IQE loss: 8. Absorption in the ETFE layer is comparatively less.This is in line with the associated transmission loss figures shown in Fig.4% 12.4% 2. 3. PVB2 and SIL4 laminates have the highest transmittance in the 280-400 nm range. 2791 . CONCLUSIONS IQE: Before and After LDSE Cell Encapsulation 100 IQE (%) 80 Before After Encapsulant / Encaps.Front-sheet .7% respectively) and transmission losses alone.