Cohesive and Adhesive Degradation in PET-Based Photovoltaic Backsheets Subjected to Ultraviolet Accelerated Weathering

Scott Julien, Jae Kim, Yadong Lyu, David Miller, Xiaohong Gu, Kai-tak Wan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus Citations


Delamination between layers in photovoltaic (PV) backsheets is often reported in the literature, causing voids that can collect moisture, diminish module backside heat dissipation, and reduce the backsheet's effectiveness as a physical barrier. While backsheets with weathering-resistant fluoropolymer outer layers have traditionally been used in modules, more recent backsheets using non-fluoropolymer outer layers, such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET), have been developed. These backsheets have shown signs of premature degradation, and their adhesion degradation, in particular, has not been widely studied. In the present work, the single cantilever beam (SCB) adhesion test was used to quantify the adhesion energy in two commercially available PET-based backsheets. To study the effect of minor changes in formulation, the backsheets were obtained from same manufacturer and product line but during different years. To study the effect of environmental variables on adhesion degradation, the backsheets were subjected to artificial weathering at controlled temperature, humidity, and ultraviolet (UV) radiation in an indoor weathering chamber, and the adhesion energy was quantified at several intervals of exposure time. Layering structure, composition, and adhesion failure mode were compared between the backsheets, using Raman and infrared spectroscopy and thermogravimetric analysis. The results show a large difference in initial (unexposed) adhesion energy between the backsheets, despite very similar structures and compositions. Following exposure, adhesion energy dropped significantly, primarily due to thermo-hydrolytic degradation of the polyurethane (PU)-based adhesive layers. Significant UV-induced adhesion degradation of the PET outer layer surface was also observed. The study represents an important step in understanding adhesion degradation in PET-based backsheets, suggesting ways in which adhesion integrity – and, correspondingly, module service life – can be improved.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)637-649
Number of pages13
JournalSolar Energy
StatePublished - Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 International Solar Energy Society

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-80456


  • Accelerated weathering
  • Adhesion
  • Backsheet
  • Delamination
  • Photovoltaic


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