Impact of acetic acid exposure on metal contact degradation of different crystalline silicon solar cell technologies

Nafis Iqbal, Mengjie Li, Tamil S. Sakthivel, Kurt Mikeska, Meijun Lu, Naomi Nandakumar, Shubham Duttagupta, Marwan Dhamrin, Kosuke Tsuji, Stuart Bowden, André Augusto, Yuejun Guan, Sudipta Seal, Kristopher O. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Degradation due to acetic acid in photovoltaic (PV) modules has been a commonly observed phenomenon for both damp-heat exposure and outdoor operations. Acetic acid is a degradation byproduct of ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA), a common module encapsulant. To address this issue, robust metallization pastes and cell technologies are being developed. However, it is important to assess how these technologies perform in an acetic acid environment and withstand degradation before they are implemented in the solar market. In this work, we investigate the impact of acetic acid exposure on four different cell groups: monofacial passivated emitter and rear contact (PERC) cells with advanced telluride-based front contact pastes, bifacial PERC cells with novel aluminum rear contact pastes, bifacial tunnel oxide passivated contacts (TOPCon) cells, and silicon heterojunction (SHJ) cells. These cells were exposed to acetic acid for different time increments. The recombination losses were characterized by Suns-VOC, and multi-variate regression analysis of intensity-dependent photoluminescence (PL) images with Griddler AI. Resistive losses were tracked with the transmission line method (TLM). Samples showing severe performance degradation were selected for further materials characterization to understand the root cause. Top-down and cross-sectional scanning electron microscopy (SEM), energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS), and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) were performed to investigate the change in materials properties. Our study shows that the front contacts of the bifacial TOPCon cells and monofacial PERC cells were significantly affected by acetic acid exposure. The SHJ cells were found to be the most stable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number112089
JournalSolar Energy Materials and Solar Cells
StatePublished - Jan 15 2023


  • Acetic acid
  • Contact degradation
  • Corrosion
  • Crystalline silicon solar cells
  • Metallization paste

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


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