Fraunhofer researchers have developed a plastic film that can shield the thin-film solar cells from intrusion of water vapor and oxygen. Most of the present day solar modules utilize glass cover to enable the power generating solar cells to endure extreme weather conditions. The use of plastic film instead of glass plates will allow the printing of solar cells over a plastic film and cover it with a barrier film to manufacture photovoltaic modules in a roll.
Dr. Sabine Amberg-Schwab, a specialist in hybrid polymer known as ORMOCER, a product developed by ISC, has toiled along with her team for nearly 20 years in developing a new coating film based on ORMOCER that can be effectively used to impede the free movement of oxygen and water vapor. A new barrier lacquer was obtained by combining the coating film with another barrier material known as silicon dioxide. The coating needs to be stable at 85°C and 85% humidity. For perfect application of barrier layers over the solar film cost- effectively and flawlessly the research team has developed a patented roll-to-roll process. The painting line was constantly monitored to ensure the film is applied in dust-free surroundings, coated as a thin, continuous film and the coated side should not touch the rollers at any point of time.