Nanoscience and Microsystems ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-15-2022


Performance reliability is crucial for photovoltaic (PV) cells in both terrestrial and space-based applications. Electrical efficiency losses over time are heavily impacted by electrical losses due to microcracks within the cell structure and metallization failure. Mechanical stresses and thermal cycling of the device can lead to fracture of the current-carrying metal (Ag) lines on the surface of the device, significantly reducing output power. Incorporating carbon nanotubes (CNTs) into PV metal lines as a reinforcement, forming a CNT/Ag metal matrix composite (MMC), enhances the electrical and mechanical performance of the device. In this work the influence of CNT/Ag MMCs were explored as PV metallization integrated onto existing devices and mechanically characterized as layer-by-layer composite films. To understand the impact of CNT dimension and loading on composite microstructure, free-standing MMCs were tested under tension using Dynamic Mechanical Analysis (DMA). Finite element analysis (FEA) was used to simulate a simplified representation of the MMC microstructure. The FEA model was used in conjunction with experimental tensile data to examine potential CNT mechanical responses by viewing the nanotube phase as an effective layer.


carbon nanotubes, composite, photovoltaics, solar cells, crack tolerant metallization

Document Type




Degree Name

Nanoscience and Microsystems

Level of Degree


Department Name

Nanoscience and Microsystems

First Committee Member (Chair)

Sang M. Han

Second Committee Member

Yu-Lin Shen

Third Committee Member

Mahmoud Reda Taha

Fourth Committee Member

David M. Wilt