In all questions surrounding the quality and aging behavior of PV module materials, it is crucial to identify relevant parameters (degradation indicators). Such degradation indicators can then be used to develop models of degradation reaction kinetics. Our work is focused on the (further) development of testing procedures – that are non-destructive if possible. In addition to outdoor exposure and accelerated aging tests, numerical simulation techniques allow us to study the degradation processes in solar thermal components, for example by calculating material and energy transport processes over the long expected service lives. Our work primarily concentrates on investigating the long-term stability of materials for use in Photovoltaic systems, particularly polymeric materials, but also covers a range of issues from diverse fields that experience similar loads and utilize other material classes.

An interdisciplinary team of scientists, engineers and technicians works closely together to produce tailored responses to various questions in degradation analysis.

In addition to a wide range of outdoor and indoor test stands and devices, we also have the following analytical instruments:

Atomic force microscope

Atomic force microscopy (AFM) is used to examine the surface properties of samples, such as their topography, adhesive properties and rigidity. Combining a Raman microscope and an atomic force microscope in a single device allows researchers to perform comprehensive 3D materials analysis.

Raman microscope

The confocal Raman microscope enables fast, non-destructive chemical characterization of a diverse range of materials. Small samples, such as polymer films, laminates and even Si cells can be analyzed in 3D using a high-precision motorized scanning stage. In addition large samples can be examined with ease by employing a special measuring head.

FTIR/UV-Vis spectrophotometer

Transmission and reflectance measurements are performed to characterize the spectral properties of materials. In order to do so, Ulbricht spheres constructed at Fraunhofer ISE are used to measure both visible and infrared ranges (0.33 µm – 17 µm).


enables the surface analysis of materials with regard to their chemical composition


A scanning electron microscope combined with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy enables visualization and chemical identification on the nanoscale.

Electroluminescence camera

Measurements with an electroluminescence camera serve as electro-optic characterization of solar cells and modules. Thus reasons for performance losses, such as cell cracks or degraded cell plating, can be visualized.

Permeation test stand

A specially-developed permeation test stand with ultra-low detection limit enables us to analyze barrier materials in terms of their permeability to water vapor and other gaseous substances in different environments. Here, permeation and diffusion coefficients are determined using high precision measurement technology.

Contact angle measuring device

The contact angle is a physical parameter that describes the wettability of a surface and characterizes it on the spectrum from hydrophobe to hydrophile. This parameter provides a relevant indication for assessing the dirt adhesion properties or self-cleaning capabilities of a surface.

Tensile testing machine

Universal testing machine for determining the mechanical properties of materials.