Blunt, Liam and Elrawemi, Mohamed (2015) Functional Modelling of Water Vapour Transmission through Surface Defects Using Surface Segmentation Analysis. In: 15th International Conference on Metrology and Properties of Engineering Surfaces, 2nd-5th March 2015, University of North Carolina at Charlotte Charlotte, North Carolina, USA.

Flexible photovoltaic films have been recently shown to have efficiencies comparable to those of solid Si based photovoltaics. Flexible PV films have significant advantages in terms of ease of manufacture by roll-to-roll (R2R) techniques and in easy building integration. A significant challenge is the protection of the flexible solar cells from water vapour ingress, which seriously reduces cell life and efficiency. Transparent barrier films are a possible solution to addressing the water vapour transmission rate (WVTR) challenge. Consequently thin barrier films such as those made from Al2O3 are the subject of increasing research interest when used for the encapsulation of flexible PV modules. The film can be produced by several thin film deposition processes such as atomic layer deposition (ALD). However, micro-scale defects in the barrier film such as pinholes and particulate debris have been shown to have serious consequences in terms of WVTR. Our previous research has empirically shown that small defects (≤3μm lateral dimension) were less significant in determining water vapour ingress. In contrast, larger defects (≥3 μm lateral dimension) have been shown to have a greater effect on the barrier functionality. The present paper illustrates the use of surface segmentation techniques to efficiently extract defect data from measured surface topography of barrier film sheets. Experimental results are presented where the defect information is correlated with the WVTR tests. A model is then presented to test the hypothesis that the major contributing defects to water vapour transmission rate (WVTR) are small numbers of large defects. The model presented in the paper shows excellent correlation with experimental results and provides a theoretical basis for the development of in process surface measurement for thin film R2R manufacture.


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