Growth in the solar industry has resulted in newer technologies, specifically concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) modules, to explore using new types of materials such as silicone encapsulants. CPV and LCPV module designs are to achieve the most efficient energy conversion possible however it is equally important to demonstrate long term reliability. Silicone is a material of interest due to its thermal stability and ability to absorb stresses incurred during thermal cycling.
The refractive index of clear silicone adhesives is advantageous because it can be optimized using phenyl groups to match BK7 glass and other substrates to minimize light loss at the interfaces but it is relatively unknown how the optical properties change over time possibly yellowing in such a harsh environment. A 1.41 silicone encapsulant is compared to a 1.52 refractive index silicone.
Optical Absorption (300nm-1300 nm), Water Vapor Permeability, Moisture Absorption and effects of oxidation at elevated temperatures will be compared of these materials to aid the engineer in choosing a silicone for their CPV application. Non-phenyl containing 1.41 RI silicones have been used for several years for bonding solar arrays in the satellite industry. Phenyl groups on the siloxane polymer can change various properties of the silicone. Understanding how phenyl affects these properties allows the engineer to understand the benefits and risks when using a RI matching silicone to minimize light loss versus a non-phenyl containing silicone.