UV-Induced Degradation of High-Efficiency Silicon PV Modules with Different Cell Architectures

Archana Sinha, Jiadong Qian, Stephanie Moffitt, Katherine Hurst, Kent Terwilliger, David Miller, Laura Schelhas, Peter Hacke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus Citations


Degradation from ultraviolet (UV) radiation has become prevalent in the front of solar cells due to the introduction of UV-transmitting encapsulants in photovoltaic (PV) module construction. Here, we examine UV-induced degradation (UVID) in various commercial, unencapsulated crystalline silicon cell technologies, including bifacial silicon heterojunction (HJ), interdigitated back contact (IBC), passivated emitter and rear contact (PERC), and passivated emitter rear totally diffused (PERT) solar cells. We performed UV exposure tests using UVA-340 fluorescent lamps at 1.24 W·m−2 (at 340 nm) and 45°C through 4.02 MJ·m−2 (2000 h). Our results showed that modern cell architectures are more vulnerable to UVID, leading to a significant power decrease (−3.6% on average; −11.8% maximum) compared with the conventional aluminum back surface field (Al-BSF) cells (<−1% on average). The power degradation is largely caused by the decrease in short-circuit current and open-circuit voltage. A greater power decrease is observed in bifacial cells with rear-side exposure compared with those with front-side exposure, indicating that the rear side is more susceptible to UV damage. Secondary ion mass spectroscopy (SIMS) confirmed an increase in hydrogen concentration near the Si/passivation interface in HJ and IBC cells after UV exposure; the excess of hydrogen could result in hydrogen-induced degradation and subsequently cause higher recombination losses. Additionally, surface oxidation and hot-carrier damage were identified in PERT cells. Using a spectral-based analysis, we obtained an acceleration factor of 5× between unpackaged cells (containing a silicon nitride antireflective coating on the front) in the UV test and an encapsulated module (with the front glass and encapsulant blocking 90% of the UV at 294 nm and 353 nm, respectively) in outdoor conditions. From the analytical calculations, we show that a UV-blocking encapsulant can reduce UV transmission in the module by an additional factor of ~50.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)36-51
Number of pages16
JournalProgress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5900-81471


  • bifacial
  • crystalline silicon
  • recombination
  • surface passivation
  • UV-induced degradation


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