Understanding Interfacial Chemistry of Positive Bias High-Voltage Degradation in Photovoltaic Modules

Archana Sinha, Stephanie Moffitt, Katherine Hurst, Michael Kempe, Katherine Han, Yu-Chen Shen, David Miller, Peter Hacke, Laura Schelhas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus Citations


Photovoltaic module degradation from a high system voltage is a prevalent degradation mode in the field, where the enabling degradation mechanisms are inherently dependent on the voltage bias polarity of the installed system. Here, the effects of positive bias on module performance are confirmed and the underlying chemical degradation processes are more thoroughly investigated to reveal different degradation pathways from those previously reported in negative bias studies. When cells are under +1000 V stress, crystalline silicon mini-modules with poly(ethylene-co-vinyl acetate) (EVA) encapsulant demonstrated a significant photocurrent loss due to EVA discoloration and delamination from increased chemical reactivity at the front-side EVA/cell metallization interface. Brown discoloration of the EVA encapsulant near the cell gridlines is linked to an electrochemical reaction at the Ag gridlines under hot and humid conditions (85 °C, 85% relative humidity). Chemical compositional analysis using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) confirmed that the discoloration is attributed to the formation of silver sulfide (Ag2S) and/or silver oxide (Ag2O) species at the EVA/Ag gridline interface. The subsequent migration of Ag ions from the cell gridlines into the bulk of the EVA was evident from XPS depth profiling and optical microscopy. However, the Ag signal was not detected at the EVA/glass interface, inferring limited ionic transport through the nominally 0.45 mm thick encapsulant. For the samples studied herein, the sulfur is believed by the process of elimination to come from the ambient air, diffusing into the module through the permeable polymer backsheet.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numberArticle No. 110959
Number of pages8
JournalSolar Energy Materials and Solar Cells
StatePublished - May 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier B.V.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-78496


  • corrosion
  • encapsulant
  • gridline
  • interface chemistry
  • photovoltaic module
  • PID
  • potential-induced degradation
  • system voltage
  • XPS


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