Tuning Surface Defect States in Sputtered Titanium Oxide Electron Transport Layers for Enhanced Stability of Organic Photovoltaics

Mehrad Ahmadpour, Mariam Ahmad, Michela Prete, John Lundsgaard Hansen, Denys I. Miakota, William Greenbank, Yunlin Jacques Zheng, Michiel Top, Thomas Ebel, Horst-Günter Rubahn, Vida Turkovic, Stela Canulescu, Nadine Witkowski, Morten Madsen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Nonfullerene acceptors (NFAs) have dramatically improved the power conversion efficiency (PCE) of organic photovoltaics (OPV) in recent years; however, their device stability currently remains a bottleneck for further technological progress. Photocatalytic decomposition of nonfullerene acceptor molecules at metal oxide electron transport layer (ETL) interfaces has in several recent reports been demonstrated as one of the main degradation mechanisms for these high-performing OPV devices. While some routes for mitigating such degradation effects have been proposed, e.g., through a second layer integrated on the ETL surface, no clear strategy that complies with device scale-up and application requirements has been presented to date. In this work, it is demonstrated that the development of sputtered titanium oxide layers as ETLs in nonfullerene acceptor based OPV can lead to significantly enhanced device lifetimes. This is achieved by tuning the concentration of defect states at the oxide surface, via the reactive sputtering process, to mitigate the photocatalytic decomposition of NFA molecules at the metal oxide interlayers. Reduced defect state formation at the oxide surface is confirmed through X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) studies, while the reduced photocatalytic decomposition of nonfullerene acceptor molecules is confirmed via optical spectroscopy investigations. The PBDB-T:ITIC organic solar cells show power conversion efficiencies of around 10% and significantly enhanced photostability. This is achieved through a reactive sputtering process that is fully scalable and industry compatible.
Original languageEnglish
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number13
Pages (from-to)16580–16588
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Reactive sputtering
  • Electron transport layers
  • Nonfullerene acceptors
  • Organic photovoltaics
  • Oxide defect states
  • Titanium oxide


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