Transparent top electrodes for organic solar cells

by Sylvio Schubert

Institution: Technische Universität Dresden
Department: Fakultät Mathematik und Naturwissenschaften
Degree: PhD
Year: 2015
Record ID: 1110797
Full text PDF: http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:bsz:14-qucosa-162670


Organic solar cells offer attractive properties for novel applications and continuous advances in material and concept development have led to significant improvements in device performance. To exploit their full potential (roll-to-roll production of flexible and top-illuminated devices, using e.g. opaque metal foil or textile as substrate), highly transparent, conductive, mechanically flexible, and cost-efficient top electrodes are of great importance. The current standard material indium tin oxide (ITO) is rigid, expensive and requires a high energy / high temperature deposition process, limiting ITO (and other transparent conductive oxides) to bottom electrode applications. This work presents fundamental investigations to understand and control the properties of transparent conductors and documents four different approaches to prepare transparent electrodes on top of efficient small molecule organic solar cells, with the aim to replace ITO. Fullerene C60 layers are investigated as completely carbon-based electrodes. For an optimized doping concentration, sheet resistance and transmittance are improved and efficient solar cells are realized. Since the lateral charge transport is still limited, a combination with a microstructured conductor is suggested. Pulsed laser deposition allows for the first time a damage-free preparation of gallium doped zinc oxide (ZnO:Ga) layers on top of organic devices by careful optimization of the deposition atmosphere. ZnO:Ga electrodes with a transmittance of Tvis = 82.7 % and sheet resistance Rs = 83 Ohm/sq are obtained. The formation of local shunts due to ZnO:Ga droplets is identified and then prevented by a shadow mask between the target and the sample, enabling solar cells with similar efficiency (2.9 %) compared to a reference device using a state-of-the-art metal top contact. Another very promising alternative are intrinsically flexible, ultra-thin silver layers. By introducing an oxide interlayer, the adverse interpenetration of silver and organic materials is prevented and the charge extraction from the solar cells is improved. With a second oxide layer on top, the silver electrode is significantly stabilized, leading to an increased solar cell lifetime of 4500 h (factor of 107). Scanning electron micrographs of Ag thin films reveal a poor wetting on organic and oxide substrates, which strongly limits the electrode performance. However, it is significantly improved by a 1 nm thin seed layer. An optimized Au/Ag film reaches Tvis = 78.1 % and Rs = 19 Ohm/sq, superior to ITO. Finally, silver electrodes blended with calcium show a unique microstructure which enables unusually high transmittance (84.3 % at 27.3 Ohm/sq) even above the expectations from bulk material properties and thin film optics. Such values have not been reached for transparent electrodes on top of organic material so far. Solar cells with a Ca:Ag top electrode achieve an efficiency of 7.2 %, which exceeds the 6.9 % of bottom-illuminated reference cells with conventional ITO electrodes and defines a new…