Surface Roughness and Features of a Solar Cell

Importance of Solar Panel Testing

Maximizing a solar cell’s energy absorption is key for the technology’s survival as a renewable resource. The multiple layers of coating and glass protection allow for the absorption, transmittance, and reflection of light that is necessary for the photovoltaic cells to function. Given that most consumer solar cells operate at 15-18% efficiency, optimizing their energy output is an ongoing battle.

Studies have shown that surface roughness plays a pivotal role in the reflectance of light. The initial layer of glass must be as smooth as possible to mitigate reflectance of light, but the subsequent layers do not follow this guideline. A degree of roughness is necessary at each coatings interface to another to increase the possibility of light scattering within their respective depletion zones and increase the absorption of light within the cell1. Optimizing the surface roughness in these regions allows the solar cell to operate to the best of its ability and with the Nanovea HS2000 High Speed Sensor, measuring surface roughness can be done quickly and accurately.

Measurement Objective

In this study we will display the capabilities of the Nanovea HS2000 High Speed Sensor by measuring the surface roughness and geometric features of a photovoltaic cell. For this demonstration a monocrystalline solar cell with no glass protection will be measured but the methodology can be used for various other applications.

Test Procedure and Procedures

The following test parameters were used to measure the surface of the solar cell.

Results and Discussion

Depicted below is the 2D false-color view of the solar cell and an area extraction of the surface with its respective height parameters. A Gaussian filter was applied to both surfaces and a more aggressive index was used to flatten the extracted area. This excludes form (or waviness) larger than the cut-off index, leaving behind features that represent the solar cell’s roughness.

A profile was taken perpendicular to the orientation of the gridlines to measure their geometric characteristics which is shown below. The gridline width, step height, and pitch can be measured for any specific location on the solar cell.


In this study we were able to display the Nanovea HS2000 Line Sensor’s ability to measure a monocrystalline photovoltaic cell’s surface roughness and features. With the ability to automate accurate measurements of multiple samples and set pass fail limits, the Nanovea HS2000 Line Sensor is a perfect choice for quality control inspections.


1 Scholtz, Lubomir. Ladanyi, Libor. Mullerova, Jarmila. “Influence of Surface Roughness on Optical Characteristics of Multilayer Solar Cells “ Advances in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, vol. 12, no. 6, 2014, pp. 631-638.

Scratch Resistance of Cellphone Screen Protectors

Scratch Resistance of Cellphone Screen Protectors

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Importance of Testing Screen Protectors

Although phone screens are designed to resist shattering and scratching, they are still susceptible to damage. Daily phone usage causes them to wear and tear, e.g. accumulate scratches and cracks. Since repairing these screens can be expensive, screen protectors are an affordable damage prevention item commonly purchased and used to increase a screen’s durability.

Using the Nanovea PB1000 Mechanical Tester’s Macro Module in conjunction with the acoustic emissions (AE) sensor, we can clearly identify critical loads at which screen protectors show failure due to scratch1 testing to create a comparative study between two types of screen protectors.

Two common types of screen protector materials are TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) and tempered glass. Of the two, tempered glass is considered the best as it provides better impact and scratch protection. However, it is also the most expensive. TPU screen protectors on the other hand, are less expensive and a popular choice for consumers who prefer plastic screen protectors. Since screen protectors are designed to absorb scratches and impacts and are usually made of materials with brittle properties, controlled scratch testing paired with in-situ AE detection is an optimal test setup for determining the loads at which cohesive failures (e.g. cracking, chipping and fracture) and/or adhesive failures (e.g. delamination and spallation) occur.

Measurement Objective

In this study, three scratch tests were performed on two different commercial screen protectors using Nanovea’s PB1000 Mechanical Tester’s Macro Module. By using an acoustic emissions sensor and optical microscope, the critical loads at which each screen protector showed failure(s) were identified.

Test Procedure and Procedures

The Nanovea PB1000 Mechanical Tester was used to test two screen protectors applied onto a phone screen and clamped down to a friction sensor table. The test parameters for all scratches are tabulated in Table 1 below.

Results and Discussion

Because the screen protectors were made of a different material, they each exhibited varying types of failures. Only one critical failure was observed for the TPU screen protector whereas the tempered glass screen protector exhibited two. The results for each sample are shown in Table 2 below. Critical load #1 is defined as the load at which the screen protectors started to show signs of cohesive failure under the microscope. Critical load #2 is defined by the first peak change seen in the acoustic emissions graph data.

For the TPU screen protector, Critical load #2 correlates to the location along with the scratch where the protector began to visibly peel off the phone screen. A scratch appeared on the surface of the phone screen once Critical load #2 was surpassed for the remainder of the scratch tests. For the Tempered Glass screen protector, Critical load #1 correlates to the location where radial fractures began to appear. Critical load #2 happens towards the end of the scratch at higher loads. The acoustic emission is a larger magnitude than the TPU screen protector, however, no damage was done to the phone screen. In both cases, Critical load #2 corresponded to a large change in depth, indicating the indenter had pierced through the screen protector.


In this study we showcase the Nanovea PB1000 Mechanical Tester’s ability to perform controlled and repeat-able scratch tests and simultaneously use acoustic emission detection to accurately identify the loads at which adhesive and cohesive failure occur in screen protectors made of TPU and tempered glass. The experimental data presented in this document supports the initial assumption that Tempered Glass performs the best for scratch prevention on phone screens.

The Nanovea Mechanical Tester offers accurate and repeatable indentation, scratch, and wear measurement capabilities using ISO and ASTM compliant Nano and Micro modules. The Mechanical Tester is a complete system, making it the ideal solution for determining the full range of mechanical properties of thin or thick, soft or hard coatings, films, and substrates.

Lubricating Eye Drop Comparison using the Nanovea T50 Tribometer

Importance of Testing Eye Drop Solutions

Eye drop solutions are used to alleviate symptoms caused by a range of eye problems. For example, they can be used to treat minor eye irritation (e.g. dryness and redness), delay the onset of glaucoma or treat infections. Eye drop solutions sold over-the-counter are mainly used to treat dryness. Their effectiveness in lubricating the eye can be compared and measured with a coefficient of friction test.
Dry eyes can be caused by a wide range of factors, for example, computer eye strain or being outdoors in extreme weather conditions. Good lubricating eye drops help maintain and supplement the moisture on the outer surface of the eyes. This works to alleviate the discomfort, burning or irritation and redness associated with dry eyes. By measuring the coefficient of friction (COF) of an eye drop solution, its lubricating efficiency and how it compares to other solutions can be determined.


Measurement Objective

In this study, the coefficient of friction (COF) of three different lubricating eye drop solutions was measured using the pin-on-disk setup on the Nanovea T50 Tribometer.

Test Procedure and Procedures

A 6mm diameter spherical pin made of alumina was applied to a glass slide with each eye drop solution acting as the lubricant between the two surfaces. The test parameters used for all experiments are summarized in Table 1 below.

Results and Discussion

The maximum, minimum, and average coefficient of friction values for the three different eye drop solutions tested are tabulated in Table 2 below. The COF v. Revolutions graphs for each eye drop solution are depicted in Figures 2-4. The COF during each test remained relatively constant for most of the total test duration. Sample A had the lowest average COF indicating it had the best lubrication properties.



In this study we showcase the capability of the Nanovea T50 Tribometer in measuring the coefficient of friction of three eye drop solutions. Based on these values, we show that Sample A had a lower coefficient of friction and therefore exhibits better lubrication in comparison to the other two samples.

Nanovea Tribometers offers precise and repeatable wear and friction testing using ISO and ASTM compliant rotative and linear modules. It also provides optional high temperature wear, lubrication, and tribo-corrosion modules available in one pre-integrated system. Such versatility allows users to better simulate the real application environment and improve fundamental understanding of the wear mechanism and tribological characteristics of various materials.

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