Fraunhofer CSP honored at the IQ Innovation Prize

Press Release / July 07, 2015

The Fraunhofer Center for Silicon Photovoltaics CSP in Halle recognized for the development of a test device for the quality control of solar cells and solar modules at the award of the IQ Prize. Dr. Volker Naumann, who developed the device along with his colleagues, received a recognition award from Halle’s Mayor Egbert Geier at today’s award ceremony.

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© Stadt Halle, Thomas Ziegler
Dr. Volker Naumann (right) received the award from the Mayer Egbert Geier.
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© Fraunhofer CSP
The PIDcon makes testing for PID susceptibility significantly simpler.

The PIDcon test device developed by him can detect potential-induced degradation (PID), one of the most frequent causes for power losses in photovoltaic modules with crystalline silicon solar cells, at cell level – this saves expensive production of test modules and testing them in the climate chamber. With the PIDcon, solar cells or encapsulation materials can be tested in a simple procedure, with significantly less material, energy and work than in the conventional test method. The device was developed at the Fraunhofer CSP and is marketed by Freiberg Instruments, a specialist for industrial semiconductor metrology, as a licensee.

»The award at the IQ Prize is great recognition of the innovative force of the Fraunhofer CSP. I am particularly pleased that a development was recognized, which also clearly shows the practical reference of our work and shows how we work in cooperation with industrial partners to increase reliability and effectiveness in production and can thus strengthen the industry«, said Professor Jörg Bagdahn, Head of the Fraunhofer CSP in Halle.

In total, eleven candidates started the race for the science prize, which has been awarded by the Town of Halle, the Martin-Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg and Weinbergcampus e.V. since 2005. In addition to the IQ Prize and the recognition award for the Fraunhofer CSP, a further recognition prize was also awarded.

 

The particular strength of PIDcon: The device makes a decisive contribution to minimizing susceptibility to potential-induced degradation. PID occurs above all, when solar modules are operated at high system voltages and in a damp environment.

At the Fraunhofer CSP, by conducting tests at nanoscopic level, it was possible to elucidate the physical principles of the defect mechanism. Crystal defects cause short-circuits (shunts) in the silicon, which occur in PID. These crystal defects are called stacking faults and are only a few micrometers long and are only one atom layer thick. They become electrically conductive due to the penetration of sodium atoms, so that short circuits occur. Based on this fundamental understanding of the PID effect, a test method at cell level was developed and patented. Freiberg Instruments, as a specialist for industrial semiconductor metrology, further developed this test method to industrial maturity as a licensee.

In the PIDcon, individual solar cells are tested – instead of complete modules, which have to be especially produced for the test. First the classic structure of a solar module is simulated, then the precise conditions under which PID takes place are created: increased temperatures and high electrical potential between the glass surface and solar cell. In this way the PID effect can be provoked on a smaller area and the degradation measured in real time. The effect of different polymer encapsulation films or glasses on the PID resistance of solar modules can also be tested.