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Semitransparent polymer-based solar cells with aluminum-doped zinc oxide electrodes.

11 November 2015


With the use of two transparent electrodes, organic polymer–fullerene solar cells are semitransparent and may be combined to parallel-connected multijunction devices or used for innovative applications like power-generating windows. A challenging issue is the optimization of the electrodes, to combine high transparency with adequate electric properties. In the present work, we study the potential of sputter-deposited aluminum-doped zinc oxide as an alternative to the widely used but relatively expensive indium tin oxide (ITO) as cathode material in semitransparent polymer–fullerene solar cells.

Concerning the anode, we utilized an insulator–metal–insulator structure based on ultrathin Au films embedded between two evaporated MoO3 layers, with the outer MoO3 film (capping layer) serving as a light coupling layer. The performance of the ITO-free semitransparent polymer–fullerene solar cells was systematically studied as dependent on the thickness of the capping layer and the active layer as well as the illumination direction. These variations were found to have strong impact on the obtained photocurrent densities.

We performed optical simulations of the electric field distribution within the devices using the transfer-matrix method, to analyze the origin of the current density variations in detail and provide deep insight into the device physics. With the conventional absorber materials studied here, optimized ITO-free and semitransparent devices reached 2.0% power conversion efficiency and a maximum optical transmission of 60%, with the device concept being potentially transferable to other absorber materials.


Wilken, S., Wilkens, V., Scheunemann, D., Nowak, R.E., von Maydell, K., Parisi, J. and Borchert, H., 2015. Semitransparent polymer-based solar cells with aluminum-doped zinc oxide electrodes. ACS applied materials & interfaces, 7(1), pp.287-300.

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