Silver front electrode grids for ITO-free all printed polymer solar cells with embedded and raised topographies, prepared by thermal imprint, flexographic and inkjet roll-to-roll processes
Publication: Research - peer-review › Journal article – Annual report year: 2012
Semitransparent front electrodes for polymer solar cells, that are printable and roll-to-roll processable under ambient conditions using different approaches, are explored in this report. The excellent smoothness of indium-tin-oxide (ITO) electrodes has traditionally been believed to be difficult to achieve using printed front grids, as surface topographies accumulate when processing subsequent layers, leading to shunts between the top and bottom printed metallic electrodes. Here we demonstrate how aqueous nanoparticle based silver inks can be employed as printed front electrodes using several different roll-to-roll techniques. We thus compare hexagonal silver grids prepared using either roll-to-roll inkjet or roll-to-roll flexographic printing. Both inkjet and flexo grids present a raised topography and were found to perform differently due to only the conductivity of the obtained silver grid. The raised topographies were compared with a roll-to-roll thermally imprinted grid that was filled with silver in a roll-to-roll process, thus presenting an embedded topography. The embedded grid and the flexo grid were found to perform equally well, with the flexographic technique currently presenting the fastest processing and the lowest silver use, whereas the embedded grid presents the maximally achievable optical transparency and conductivity. Polymer solar cells were prepared in the same step, using roll-to-roll slot-die coating of zinc oxide as the electron transport layer, poly-3-hexylthiophene:phenyl-C61–butyric acid methyl ester (P3HT:PCBM) as the active layer and poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene):poly(styrenesulfonate) (PEDOT:PSS) as the top electrode, along with a flat bed screen printed silver grid. The power conversion efficiency (PCE) obtained for large area devices (6 cm2) was 1.84%, 0.79% and 1.72%, respectively, for thermally imprinted, inkjet and flexographic silver grids, tested outside under the real sun. Central to all three approaches was that they employed environmentally friendly solvents, i.e. water based nanoparticle silver inks.
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