Evaluation of thermo-mechanical damage and fatigue life of solar cell solder interconnections

Musa.T Zarmai, N. N. Ekere, C. F. Oduoza, Emeka H. Amalu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The soldering process of interconnecting crystalline silicon solar cells to form photovoltaic (PV) module is a key manufacturing process. However, during the soldering process, stress is induced in the solar cell solder joints and remains in the joint as residual stress after soldering. Furthermore, during the module service life time, thermo-mechanical degradation of the solder joints occurs due to thermal cycling of the joints which induce stress, creep strain and strain energy. The resultant effect of damage on the solder joint is premature failure, hence shortened fatigue life. This study seeks to determine accumulated thermo-mechanical damage and fatigue life of solder interconnection in solar cell assembly under thermo-mechanical cycling conditions. In this investigation, finite element modelling (FEM) and simulations are carried out in order to determine nonlinear degradation of SnAgCu solder joints. The degradation of the solder material is simulated using Garofalo-Arrhenius creep model. A three dimensional (3D) geometric model is subjected to six accelerated thermal cycles (ATCs) utilising IEC 61215 standard for photovoltaic panels. The results demonstrate that induced stress, strain and strain energy impacts the solder joints during operations. Furthermore, the larger the accumulated creep strain and creep strain energy in the joints, the shorter the fatigue life. This indicates that creep strain and creep strain energy in the solder joints significantly impacts the thermo-mechanical reliability of the assembly joints. Regions of solder joint with critical stress, strain and strain energy values including their distribution are determined. Analysis of results demonstrates that creep energy density is a better parameter than creep strain in predicting interconnection fatigue life. The use of six ATCs yields significant data which enable better understanding of the response of the solder joints to the induced loads. Moreover, information obtained from this study can be used for improved design and better-quality fabrication of solder interconnections in solar cell assembly for enhanced thermo-mechanical reliability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-43
Number of pages7
JournalRobotics and Computer-Integrated Manufacturing
Early online date31 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2017


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