Tracer IV-curve software
Tracer IV-curve software is the all-in-one solution for the measurement and elaboration of IV-curves for solar cells and modules. Tracer is the core application developed by ReRa Solutions that will help you to characterize your solar cells and modules. Many institutes and laboratories all over the world work hard on the development of new materials and technologies for photovoltaic applications. One of the main techniques to characterize these devices is to measure its IV curve. An IV curve can be taken from a solar cell by changing the voltage while measuring the light generated current.
It seems logical for this measurement to use a standard power supply, because a power supply is normally used to provide a variable voltage and current. Unfortunately this would not work for solar cells. A solar cell generates current, so you will need to have a power supply that sinks this generated current instead of provide it. This can be done with a so called bi-polar power supply (or electronic load). This is a power supply that can sink and source current at both positive and negative voltages. There are many instruments on the market that can be used a such a bi-polar power supply. Some of them are just bi-polar power supplies while others integrate measurement and control capabilities as well.
Tracer will let you define and setup a system based on different instruments to measure your IV curves. You can add multiplexers to automatically measure multiple cells by using one single measurement system, implement contact checking and measure monitoring solar cells.
Some examples of the supported hardware (please contact us for other possibilities):
- Keithley 2400 series
- Keithley 2600 series
- HACKL Electronic Loads
- Kepco BOB
- B&K Electronic Loads
- Toellner loads info
- EKO MP-180 Curve Tracer
- National Instruments Data Acquisition
- MODBUS / Ethernet controlled instruments
Of course Tracer natively supports the control of all Keithley 2400 and 2600 series SourceMeters. These instruments have proven their strength over time for the measurement of solar cells. They range from 0.1fA – 20 Amperes. Tracer is developed with the latest Microsoft.NET Technology, which resulted in a modern ‘Microsoft Office′ look and feel. A stable operation on the Microsoft Windows platform is guaranteed (Vista or higher). Other popular platforms like Linux and MacOS will be supported in the future.
Before you start working with Tracer, you will have to configure your system. This is done by the Tracer Configurator. A tool that completely defines the setup you want to use. Tracer intends to support most instruments available on the market to use as an IV-curve measurement system. You can use for example a Kepco Bop bipolar power supply, add 2 Agilent 34410A DMMs to measure voltage and current, use a National Instruments DAQ card to control the Kepco Bob and get that unused Keithley 2000 DMM to measure a pt100 sensor for the solar cell temperature. This is all defined in the configurator.
PV Module or single cells?
Tracer can be run in one of the 2 modes: Module or Cell. The cell mode is the designed for solar cells and this is the mode that was always used in former version of Tracer. The module mode is changing the application workflow to better support module measurements.
Tracer 3 produces binary native project files with the IVP3 extension. These can be opened in Tracer 3 and in the Tracer Analyser. This lower cost version of Tracer 3 cannot only read the files produced by the full version, but it can do more. It will do data elaboration, curve fitting, import, export and more. The only difference is that the analyzer cannot control any instruments. For a much lower price you have a full data analysis system for IV curves. Click here to compare the different features in between Tracer 3 and Tracer Analyser.
For the Tracer 3 IV Curve software, ReRa Solutions offers a yearly Service Contract. Click here to read more.