Imaging Lateral Drift Kinetics to Understand Causes of Outdoor Degradation in Silicon Heterojunction Photovoltaic Modules

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6 Scopus Citations


Lateral drift currents caused by partial or patterned illumination of photovoltaic cells have important implications for laser-based screening methods and luminescence imaging of fielded and lab-stressed modules. This study investigates the kinetics of carrier drift and bulk recombination following patterned illumination in commercial silicon heterojunctions with intrinsic thin layer (HIT) modules, comparing the kinetics between a ten-year field-weathered module versus a control module that is stored indoors. The measurement of the microwave photoconductance decay (μPCD) transients in the modules, both coincident with the photoexcitation and in nonilluminated cell regions, reveals carrier drift on the 100 μs timescale, followed by millisecond bulk lifetimes. Importantly, the μPCD transients are consistent with luminescence spreading over the cell, which is imaged using a time-gated InGaAs array camera. The weathered HIT module shows slower lateral drift and faster bulk lifetimes compared with the control, suggesting increased series resistance and accelerated nonradiative recombination in this module, attributable to degradation of the transparent conductive oxide and degradation of the passivation layer, respectively. These results provide a novel example of using time-resolved measurements directly on full photovoltaic modules to reveal causes of degradation, providing insight for further development of module imaging and screening capabilities.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number1900102
Number of pages6
JournalSolar RRL
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-73528


  • lateral drift
  • luminescence imaging
  • microwave photoconductance decay
  • photovoltaic modules
  • silicon heterojunction


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