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Modeling Impact Mechanics of 3D Helicoidally Architected Polymer Composites Enabled by Additive Manufacturing for Lightweight Silicon Photovoltaics Technology

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journal contribution
posted on 12.05.2022, 01:58 by Arief Suriadi Budiman, Rahul Sahay, Komal Agarwal, Rayya Fajarna, Fergyanto E Gunawan, Avinash BajiAvinash Baji, Nagarajan Raghavan
When silicon solar cells are used in the novel lightweight photovoltaic (PV) modules using a sandwich design with polycarbonate sheets on both the front and back sides of the cells, they are much more prone to impact loading, which may be prevalent in four-season countries during wintertime. Yet, the lightweight PV modules have recently become an increasingly important development, especially for certain segments of the renewable energy markets all over the world— such as exhibition halls, factories, supermarkets, farms, etc.—including in countries with harsh hailstorms during winter. Even in the standard PV module design using glass as the front sheet, the silicon cells inside remain fragile and may be prone to impact loading. This impact loading has been widely known to lead to cracks in the silicon solar cells that over an extended period of time may significantly degrade performance (output power). In our group’s previous work, a 3D helicoidally architected fiber-based polymer composite (enabled by an electrospinning-based additive manufacturing methodology) was found to exhibit excellent impact resistance—absorbing much of the energy from the impact load—such that the silicon solar cells encapsulated on both sides by this material breaks only at significantly higher impact load/energy, compared to when a standard, commercial PV encapsulant material was used. In the present study, we aim to use numerical simulation and modeling to enhance our understanding of the stress distribution and evolution during impact loading on such helicoidally arranged fiber-based composite materials, and thus the damage evolution and mechanisms. This could further aid the implementation of the lightweight PV technology for the unique market needs, especially in countries with extreme winter seasons.


The authors would like to acknowledge the funding from the Ministry of Education (MOE) Academic Research Funds MOE2017-T2-2-175 titled "Materials with Tunable Impact Resistance via Integrated Additive Manufacturing as well as MOE2019-T2-1-197 titled "Monte Carlo Design and Optimization of Multicomponent Polymer Nano-composites". This work is supported by the La Trobe University Leadership RFA Grant, La Trobe University Start-up Grant and Collaboration and Research Engagement (CaRE) Grant offered by the School of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences (SEMS), La Trobe University. The authors also acknowledge the receipt of funding support from Temasek Labs@SUTD Singapore, through its SEED grant program for the project IGDSS1501011 and SMART (Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology) through its Ignition grant program for the project SMART ING-000067 ENG IGN. N.R. would like to acknowledge the funding from the Ministry of Education (MOE) Academic Research Fund MOE2019-T2-1-197 titled "Monte Carlo Design and Optimization of Multicomponent Polymer Nanocomposites" as well as support from EDB-IPP Surplus Funds Grant No. RGSUR08 for payment of article processing charges (APC).


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© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (