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Highly Efficient, Inverted Polymer Solar Cells with Indium Tin Oxide Modified with Solution-Processed Zwitterions as the Transparent Cathode

Sun, Kuan, Zhao, Baomin, Kumar, Amit, Zeng, Kaiyang, Ouyang, Jianyong
ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 2012 v.4 no.4 pp. 2009-2017
cathodes, chemical structure, coatings, electric field, indium tin oxide, lighting, methanol, methodology, photovoltaic cells, polymers, zwitterions
Polymer solar cells (PSCs) with inverted structure can greatly improve photovoltaic stability. This paper reports a novel method to lower the work function of indium tin oxide (ITO) through the modification with a thin layer of zwitterions which have both positive and negative charges in the same molecule. Zwitterions have a strong dipole moment due to the presence of the two types of charges and are immobile under electric field. Zwitterions with both conjugated and saturated structure were investigated. A zwitterion thin layer is formed on ITO by spin coating a methanol solution of the zwitterion. The zwitterion-modified ITO sheets can be used as the cathode for the electron collection of inverted PSCs. The inverted poly(3-hexylthiophene):[6,6]-phenyl-C61-butyric acid methyl ester (P3HT:PC₆₁BM) PSCs can exhibit photovoltaic efficiency as high as 3.98% under simulated AM1.5G illumination (100 mW cm–²), which is comparable to that of PSCs with normal architecture. The effective electron collection by the zwitterion-modified ITO sheets is attributed to the reduction of the work function of ITO as a result of the dipole moment by the zwitterions. The zwitterion modification can lower the work function of ITO by up to 0.97 eV. The photovoltaic performance of PSCs and the reduction in the work function of ITO strongly depend on the chemical structure of the zwitterions.