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AIT-PVS Lab - Tools for PV characterization/reliability

  • Characterization and reliability tools for the accreditation tests of PV modules 
  • Tools for PV deposition, characterization/reliability and development of thin film coatings  

AIT Austrian Institute of Technology is Austria's largest research and technology organisation, More than 250 experts are working on the energy systems of the future. Photovoltaics, together with other renewable energy sources, will form the central pillar of our future energy supply.

In the field of photovoltaics, AIT offers more than 20 years of experience applying beyond state-of-the-art laboratory infrastructure. AIT offers by VIPERLAB project its  infrastructure that consists of tools for PV characterization/reliability and development of thin film coatings, which makes AIT Lab one of the few locations in Europe where such thorough tests can be realized.


The infrastructure consists of tools for PV characterization/reliability and development of thin film coatings, which makes AIT Lab one of the few locations in Europe where such thorough tests can be realized.

1. Characterization and reliability tools for photovoltaics, as required for accreditation tests of PV modules:

  1. AAA+ pulsed solar simulator for modules with filters for spectral response measurements
  2. Steady state solar simulator for modules
  3. AAA+ steady state simulator for sample sizes up to 20x20 cm2, including MPP tracking setup
  4. EQE and IQE setups with extended wavelength range up to 1800 nm
  5. Impedance spectroscopy
  6. Photoluminescence (PL) and electroluminescence (EL) imaging, IR thermography
  7. Climatic chamber for cells/modules for damp heat, humidity-freeze and other relevant measurements
  8. Accelerated UV ageing for cells/modules (up to 250 W/m2)

2. Tools for deposition and characterization of thin film coatings:

  1. Cluster sputter tool with 11 sputter sources (DC and RF) with 4-inch diameter targets. Tool is used for TCOs and carrier-selective interfacial layers (NiO, MoOx, WOx,…).  Size of substrate: up to 4-inch in diameter.
  2. Production-scale spray-coating and spray-pyrolysis system for oxides (e.g. In:ZnO, Ga2O3, CuxO,…) and Ag-NWs. Sample size up to 10x10 cm2 for spray pyrolysis and 20x20 cm2 for spray coating.
  3. Automated SILAR coating tool for up to 5x5 cm2
  4. Glove-box cluster tool with spin coating and thermal evaporator for the fabrication of perovskite cells (up to 5x5 cm2).
  5. Electrochemical deposition setups (potentiostats/galvanostats) for metal oxide nanowire and thin film fabrication (e.g. ZnO), as well as metal coatings (Cu, Zn, Sn, Au…)
  6. Photoelectrochemical set-up including solar simulator and electrolyzer for water splitting
  7. Materials characterization tools (SEM, AFM, XRD, FTIR, EDX, Raman, GC…)

The sputter system, with its multitude of sputter sources, provides the opportunity to investigate a wide number of materials and material combinations. The system is unique in Austria and rare within Europe. Likewise, there is very extended experience in spray coating/pyrolysis of oxides and the tool has production-scale features and automatization capabilities to facilitate its use.

Services currently offered by the infrastructure

The PV characterization and reliability infrastructure is used for direct industry contact work (e.g. accreditation), but also for co-funded national and European projects.  Because of its special role in accreditation activities, certain pieces of infrastructure (bullet points 1a.,1b.,1g. and 1h. above) are exclusively used by trained AIT researchers and cannot be operated by external users. But the other parts can be used by external users after training and under supervision from AIT users. 

The coatings infrastructure is used for co-funded project work (national and European co-funded projects), as well as for direct industry contract work.  The tools are used by researchers in AIT (staff scientists, PhD and master’s students) and have given rise to >50 publications /theses /patents in the last 5 years.  We have also organized workshops in the framework of European projects, where researchers from European institutes have participated in experiments (like device fabrication) in AIT and used the tools under supervision/guidance from AIT trained users.  These workshops were very successful and will thus be continued.   All projects currently running have strong industry participation, partly because of the capabilities of the infrastructure to test and develop materials and devices

To access under VIPERLAB Project

  • Details on access: Access to the available characterization methods and tools. The users will be supervised during the use of the equipment. A preparatory work is necessary before the visit of the user for the experiment (e.g. exchange of sputter targets in the tool etc). Users will receive safety instructions and instructions/training on the equipment operation.
  • Number of days spent typically at the infrastructure for an experiment: 2 – 6 days
  • Unit of access (how many user visits are expected): Expected 6 user visits; in time for the TA, AIT will properly train and advise users to allow a safe and efficient implementation of the TA project.
  • Remarks on integration of users into the scheduling of the RI: The time for the experiments will be arranged by offering the user certain possible weeks/days and allowing the user to select among these.
  • Access costs via unit costs (a), actual costs (b), or a combination (c): (b)

Support offered

The external users will be offered full scientific and technical support from AIT personnel in the fields of expertise (e.g. transparent electrodes, hole and electron transport layers, solar cell device fabrication, materials characterization, measurement and imaging techniques of cells, norms and measurement protocols etc).  AIT researchers will train the users in the use and operation of the tools and introduce them into the techniques by giving them the necessary scientific and technical background information.  The channels of use can be summarized as follows:

  • Use of infrastructure by external users after training or supervision/guidance from trained AIT researchers
  • Organization of workshops where AIT researchers can work together with external users to achieve specific project milestones

Preparation of samples by AIT users according to specifications/recipes from external researchers

Partecipation in others relevant Research Projects or activities connected to VIPERLAB

  • DegradationLab (H2020) - Advanced centre for the accurate characterization of new and emerging solar cells
  • TexHype (national) – Textile-integrated hybrid printed electronics
  • NEXT-FOIL (SOLAR-ERA.NET) – Next generation solar foil for flexible photovoltaics


Infrastructure Main contact
Infrastructure contact
This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement N° 101006715

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