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Core Objective 4: Fielded Module Forensics

As a core objective, DuraMAT studies fielded module forensics—the quantification and characterization of photovoltaic (PV) module failure modes during outdoor exposure and the study of materials and performance properties changing over time during testing and deployment.

Fielded module forensics includes a wide variety of structural, chemical, morphological, electrical, mechanical, and compositional materials characterization tools and the development of reference libraries for module materials.

One of the biggest challenges to studying degradation or failure in fielded modules is that frequent absence of a “reference” module or material. It is difficult to find out what went wrong when we don’t know what it should look like. This core objective will enable researchers to better understand PV material durability and elucidate degradation mechanisms, in addition to generating practical, multi-modal data that guides next steps in materials and module design.

The core objective will also include a study of cell cracking in fielded modules, a non-destructive test method to monitor the generation and evolution of stresses in encapsulated cells and modules, and development of an imaging protocol to identify the degradation mechanisms in fielded modules.

Key Results

  • Demonstration of an accelerated testing method capable of identifying materials and design field failures that are not captured by existing standard tests. The application-based, unbiased (e.g. derived from the diurnal cycle) C-AST method was demonstrated to identify multiple failure modes (e.g., backsheet cracking, interconnect corrosion, LeTID) observed in PV installations.
  • Post-examination of specimens (DECS, optical mapping, voltage ionization & UV-LID projects) has confirmed degradation mode(s) resulting from accelerated testing and revealed mechanism-specific insights to improve the understanding and the corresponding degradation rate model(s).
  • Identification and quantification of the effects of UV exposure and UV contributions to known degradation modes.

Related Projects 

Field Deployment

Photovoltaic Module Luminescence and Thermal Imaging

Effect of Cell Cracks on Module Power Loss and Degradation

Anti-Reflection Coatings for Photovoltaic Module Glass

Investigation of Interfacial Degradation in Glass/Glass Photovoltaic Modules

Investigating Surface Cracking on PV Module Backsheets

High-Throughput Contact Angle Measurement

High-Throughput, Anti-Soiling Test Station

Spatially Resolved Characterization

X-Ray Characterization of Anti-Soiling PV Coatings

Direct Imaging of Stress in Crystalline Silicon Modules

Rebound-Indent Field Tester for PV Module Backsheets

Water Content Imaging in Crystalline Silicon PV Modules for Packaging Material Analysis

Degradation Pathways in Glass/Glass Bifacial PV with Emerging Encapsulants and Half-Cut Cells

Investigating Degradation of Bifacial PV Technologies in the Field

Platypus: Simple Field Photoluminescence Imaging with Low Cost and Very High Resolution

DuraMAT Fielded Module Library 

Cross-Sectional Depth Profiling of Accelerated and Field-Aged Backsheet Materials

Effect of Cell Cracks on Module Power Loss and Degradation: Modern Module Architectures

Benchmarking of Recently Deployed Modules: Associating Specific Bill of Materials With Field Performance Trends

Multiyear Study of Crack-Induced Degradation in Fielded Photovoltaic Modules

Non-Contact Inspection of Photovoltaic System Fasteners


To learn more about this core objective, contact Laura Schelhas.