Nickel oxide interlayer films from nickel formate-ethylenediamine precursor: Influence of annealing on thin film properties and photovoltaic device performance

K. X. Steirer, R. E. Richards, A. K. Sigdel, A. Garcia, P. F. Ndione, S. Hammond, D. Baker, E. L. Ratcliff, C. Curtis, T. Furtak, D. S. Ginley, D. C. Olson, N. R. Armstrong, J. J. Berry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

An organometallic ink based on the nickel formate-ethylenediamine (Ni(O2CH)2(en)2) complex forms high performance NiOx thin film hole transport layers (HTL) in organic photovoltaic (OPV) devices. Improved understanding of these HTLs functionality can be gained from temperature-dependent decomposition/oxidation chemistries during film formation and corresponding chemical structure-function relationships for energetics, charge selectivity, and transport in photovoltaic platforms. Investigations of as-cast films annealed in air (at 150 °C-350 °C), with and without subsequent O2-plasma treatment, were performed using thermogravimetric analysis, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, ultraviolet and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, and spectroscopic ellipsometry to elucidate the decomposition and oxidation of the complex to NiOx. Regardless of the anneal temperature, after exposure to O2-plasma, these HTLs exhibit work functions greater than the ionization potential of a prototype donor polymer poly(N-9′-heptadecanyl-2,7-carbazole-alt-5,5-(4′,7′-di-2-thienyl-2′,1′,3′-benzothiadiazole) (PCDTBT), thereby meeting a primary requirement of energy level alignment. Thus, bulk-heterojunction (BHJ), OPV solar cells made on this series of NiOx HTLs all exhibit similar open circuit voltages (Voc). In contrast, the short circuit currents increase significantly from 1.7 to 11.2 mA cm-2 upon increasing the anneal temperature from 150 °C to 250 °C. Concomitantly, increased conductivity and electrical homogeneity of NiOx thin films are observed at the nanoscale using conductive tip-AFM. Similar Voc observed for all the O2-plasma treated NiOx interlayers and variations to nanoscale conductivity suggest that the HTLs all form charge selective contacts and that their carrier extraction efficiency is determined by the amount of precursor conversion to NiOx. The separation of these two properties: selectivity and conductivity, sheds further light on charge selective interlayer functionality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10949-10958
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Materials Chemistry A
Volume3
Issue number20
DOIs
StatePublished - May 28 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Materials Science(all)

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