Nano-crater morphology in hybrid electron-collecting buffer layers for high efficiency polymer:nonfullerene solar cells with enhanced stability
Organic solar cells based on solution processes have strong advantages over conventional silicon solar cells due to the possible low-cost manufacturing of flexible large-area solar modules at low temperatures. However, the benefit of the low temperature process is diminished by a thermal annealing step at high temperatures (≥200 °C), which cannot be practically applied for typical plastic film substrates with a glass transition temperature lower than 200 °C, for inorganic charge-collecting buffer layers such as zinc oxide (ZnO) in high efficiency inverted-type organic solar cells. Here we demonstrate that novel hybrid electron-collecting buffer layers with a particular nano-crater morphology, which are prepared by a low-temperature (150 °C) thermal annealing process of ZnO precursor films containing poly(2-ethyl-2-oxazoline) (PEOz), can deliver a high efficiency (12.35%) similar to the pristine ZnO layers prepared by the conventional high-temperature process (200 °C) for inverted-type polymer:nonfullerene solar cells. The nano-crater morphology was found to greatly enhance the stability of solar cells due to improved adhesion between the active layers and ZnO:PEOz hybrid buffer layers.