With the drop in cost of silicon solar panels, PV has become much more accessible and practical as a major player in the energy market. However, solar panels are still limited on lifetime of about 20 years due to the degradation of materials.
Standard PV panels consist of several layers, including the encapsulant - the adhesive and protective polymer surrounding the silicon cells - and the backsheet - a rigid polymer sealing the system. Theses two materials undergo degradation due to UV damage over time, compromising the integrity of the solar panel.
Our lab characterizes the degradation of the materials and explores new options that can either decrease cost and extend lifetimes of the solar panels. By understanding the scission or crosslinking of the polymer chains using methods such as FTIR and PDS, we may begin to understand what can be done to improve the available technology.