The Effect of Aging on the Delamination Fracture Energy of Glass Solar Reflectors

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


Thin metal and metal oxide films deposited on glass or polymer substrates have been widely applied to manufacture front surfaced solar reflectors such as those used in the concentrated solar power (CSP) systems due to the facts that they are highly transparent, resistant to ultraviolet (UV) light and abrasion, and chemically inert. However, the reliable operation over long periods of outdoor exposure of such solar reflectors depends on the adequate adhesion between each layer to prevent delamination and subsequent failure. We report results from measurements of the delamination fracture energy (DFE) of the weakest interface in both as-deposited and aged reflectors, where the reflector construction consists of a glass/copper/silver/oxide stack. In this study, DFE was measured using a width-tapered beam method and the test results showed that the weakest interface of this solar reflector is the copper-glass interface, with a delamination fracture energy of approximately 4.4 J/m2. In order to verify the test results, finite element (FE) simulations were run using the commercial software package ABAQUS 6.14 based on the cohesive zone model (CZM). In the simulations, the DFE derived from the delamination measurement was treated as an input and the delamination forces from the FE simulations were compared to the experimental results. The good agreement between the tested and simulated delamination force indicated that this width-tapered beam method is accurate even for very small DFE, making it appropriate to test the DFE of front surfaced glass solar reflectors. Additionally, in order to study the aging effect on the DFE, accelerated aging tests were conducted using samples with different protective coatings, one group of samples with alumina (Al2O3) protective coating and the other group with titania (TiO2) protective coating. The DFE after 50 and 100 hours of accelerated aging were measured. The test results showed that the copper-glass interface would still be the weakest interface for all samples after aging, and the DFE for samples with Al2O3 protective coating was unchanged whereas the copper-glass interface was found to undergo statistically significant change after both 50 and 100 hours of aging for samples with TiO2 protective coating. We found that DFE at the copper/glass interface decreased after 50 hours of aging then increased after 100 hours of aging. The origin of this non-monotonic response of TiO2 coated reflectors under accelerated aging conditions is unknown.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages42
StatePublished - 2018

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-2C00-72309


  • alumina
  • delamination
  • fracture energy
  • reflector
  • silver
  • tapered-beam
  • titania


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