Nanomechanical and Fluorescence Characterizations of Weathered PV Module Encapsulation

Jae Kim, Yadong Lyu, Andrew Fairbrother, David Miller, Michael Kempe, Michael Köhl, Xiaohong Gu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus Citations


Nanoindentation and fluorescence spectroscopy provide spatially resolved mechanical and chemical characterization for degradation of poly (ethylene-co-vinyl acetate) (EVA) encapsulants aged under accelerated weathering and in field deployed photovoltaic (PV) modules. For the accelerated weathering tests, two different EVA formulations in the glass/EVA/glass-laminated coupons were exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light for 180 days at three different temperatures (40, 60, and 80 °C) and UV intensities (0.4, 2.2, and 2.9 W/m2/nm at 340 nm). The fluorescence spectra and moduli were uniform through the cross section of both EVA formulations at the lowest temperature and UV intensity; however, under the highest temperature and UV intensity, the UV irradiated sides showed lower moduli and higher fluorescence compared to the opposite sides. For EVA obtained from PV modules deployed 27 years in Sacramento, CA, USA, changes in fluorescence intensity across the thickness were relatively greater than changes in modulus. On the other hand, for EVA obtained from the same type of module stored in the shed for 27 years, no fluorescence was observed, and a uniform modulus was seen through the EVA layer, but with substantially higher values than those obtained from the field-deployed modules. The different extent of changes between laboratory and field exposures suggests the importance of considering effects of temperature and UV intensity for designing a reliable accelerated testing. This study uniquely demonstrates the capability of microscale characterization using nanoindentation and fluorescence microscopy to monitor mechanical and chemical degradation of EVA encapsulants in PV modules.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number9363279
Pages (from-to)725-730
Number of pages6
JournalIEEE Journal of Photovoltaics
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2011-2012 IEEE.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-76792


  • Accelerated aging
  • Characterization
  • Encapsulation
  • Fluorescence
  • Modulus
  • Photovoltaic


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