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ACS Nano. 2018 Jun 26;12(6):5518-5529. doi: 10.1021/acsnano.8b01178. Epub 2018 Jun 14.

Silane-Capped ZnO Nanoparticles for Use as the Electron Transport Layer in Inverted Organic Solar Cells.

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Printable Electronics Research Center (SINANO) , Suzhou Institute of Nano-Tech and Nano-Bionics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Collaborative Innovation Center of Suzhou Nano Science and Technology , Suzhou , 215123 , People's Republic of China.
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences , Beijing , 100049 , People's Republic of China.
Hunan Key Laboratory for Super Microstructure and Ultrafast Process, School of Physics and Electronics , Central South University , Changsha , 410083 , Hunan , People's Republic of China.
i-lab, Suzhou Institute of Nano-Tech and Nano-Bionics, Chinese Academy of Sciences , Suzhou , 215123 , People's Republic of China.


Zinc oxide (ZnO) nanoparticles are widely used as electron- transport layer (ETL) materials in organic solar cells and are considered to be the candidate with the most potential for ETLs in roll-to-roll (R2R)-printed photovoltaics. However, the tendency of the nanoparticles to aggregate reduces the stability of the metal oxide inks and creates many surface defects, which is a major barrier to its printing application. With the aim of improving the stability of metal oxide nanoparticle dispersions and suppressing the formation of surface defects, we prepared 3-aminopropyltrimethoxysilane (APTMS)-capped ZnO (ZnO@APTMS) nanoparticles through surface ligand exchange. The ZnO@APTMS nanoparticles exhibited excellent dispersibility in ethanol, an environmentally friendly solvent, and remained stable in air for at least one year without any aggregation. The capping of the ZnO nanoparticles with APTMS also reduced the number of surface-adsorbed oxygen defects, improved the charge transfer efficiency, and suppressed the light-soaking effect. The thickness of the ZnO@APTMS ETL could reach 100 nm without an obvious decrease in the performance. Large-area APTMS-modified ZnO films were successfully fabricated through roll-to-roll microgravure printing and exhibited good performance in flexible organic solar cells. This work demonstrated the distinct advantages of this ZnO@APTMS ETL as a potential buffer layer for printed organic electronics.


ZnO nanoparticles; long-term stability; organic solar cells; printable buffer layer; silane capping agent


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