Impact of Specimen Preparation Method on Photovoltaic Backsheet Degradation During Accelerated Aging Test

Ji Xia, Yi Liu, Hongjie Hu, Xiaogang Zhu, Hao Lv, Nancy Phillips, Kaushik Choudhury, William Gambogi, Marisol Rodriguez, Ethan Simon, Michael Kempe, Joshua Morse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this study, we highlight some important factors in the specimen preparation methods for evaluating photovoltaic backsheet properties after accelerated aging. Two different sequences are considered: Method (I) cut-then-age: cut into 1-cm wide strips and then expose to stress, and Method (II) age-then-cut: expose a larger sheet to stress and then cut into 1-cm widths for mechanical property measurements. We also compare the effect of three cutting methods, (a) tensile specimen punch, (b) paper cutter, and (c) fresh razor blade. Several commercial backsheets were evaluated, with stress exposures including (a) pressure cooker test (PCT), (b) dry ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure, and (c) UV combined damp heat tests. Fourier transform infrared spectrometer (FTIR) and intrinsic viscosity (IV) were used to analyze the materials on unstressed materials and samples exposed to PCT. The results show that both the cutting method and the time of cutting have an impact on the backsheet mechanical properties. Under UV exposure, Method II, age-then-cut, generally resulted in a higher average value, with more variation than Method I; however, if the side strips from Method II were excluded, the variation dropped to the same level. This is because the specimens at the sides of the sheet get additional damage from UV light from the exposed sides of the sample. In contrast to UV exposure, PCT specimens prepared by Method II result in lower average values and higher variability. This is attributed to embrittlement through the bulk of the sample where the cutting of embrittled specimens appears to result in more edge defects which can then initiate a break at smaller strains. The data suggest that for UV exposures, the specimens should be cut after aging and the exposed side specimens discarded, and that for PCT exposures, the specimens should be cut before the exposure.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1961-1971
Number of pages11
JournalEnergy Science and Engineering
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Energy Science & Engineering published by the Society of Chemical Industry and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-81290


  • accelerated aging test
  • cutting
  • embrittlement
  • photovoltaic backsheet
  • sample preparation
  • tensile testing


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