The use of metal oxide interlayers in polymer solar cells has great potential because metal oxides are abundant, thermally stable, and can be used in fl exible devices. Here, a layer-by-layer (LbL) protocol is reported as a facile, room-temperature, solution-processed method to prepare electron transport layers from commercial ZnO nanoparticles and polyacrylic acid (PAA) with a controlled and tunable porous structure, which provides large interfacial contacts with the active layer. Applying the LbL approach to bulk heterojunction polymer solar cells with an optimized ZnO layer thickness of H25 nm yields solar cell power-conversion effi ciencies (PCEs) of ≈6%, exceeding the effi ciency of amorphous ZnO interlayers formed by conventional sputtering methods. Interestingly, annealing the ZnO/PAA interlayers in nitrogen and air environments in the range of 60-300 ° C reduces the device PCEs by almost 20% to 50%, indicating the importance of conformational changes inherent to the PAA polymer in the LbL-deposited fi lms to solar cell performance. This protocol suggests a new fabrication method for solution-processed polymer solar cell devices that does not require postprocessing thermal annealing treatments and that is applicable to fl exible devices printed on plastic substrates.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Condensed Matter Physics