Controlling the surface nanostructure of ZnO and Al-doped ZnO thin films using electrostatic spraying for their application in 12% efficient perovskite solar cells†
In this paper, ZnO and Al-doped ZnO films were deposited using the electrospraying method and studied for the first time as photoanodes for efficient perovskite solar cells. Effects of substrate temperature, deposition time, applied voltage, substrate-to-nozzle distance and flow rate (droplet size) on the morphology of ZnO were studied with the help of FE-SEM images. The major factors such as the droplet size of the spray, substrate temperature and substrate-to-nozzle distance at deposition control the film morphology. Indeed, these factors determine the density of the film, its smoothness and the flow of solution over the substrate. The droplet size was controlled by the flow rate of the spray. The substrate-to-nozzle distance and flow rate will both regulate the solution amount deposited on the surface of the substrate. The most favorable conditions for a good quality ZnO thin film were a long substrate-to-nozzle distance and lower solution flow rates. In situ droplet size measurement shows that the size and dispersion of particles were narrowed. The method was shown to have a high deposition rate and efficiency relative to well-established thin film deposition techniques such as chemical and physical vapor deposition. In addition, it also allows easy control of the microstructure and stoichiometry of the deposits. The pure ZnO film produced under optimum conditions (440 nm thick) demonstrated a high power conversion efficiency (PCE) of 10.8% when used as a photoanode for perovskite solar cells, owing to its high porosity, uniform morphology and efficient electron transport. For thicker films a drastic decrease in PCE was observed due to their low porosity. We also observed that the open-circuit voltage increases from 1010 mV to 1045 mV and also the PCE increases from 10.8% to 12.0% when pure ZnO films were doped with aluminum (Al). Under atmospheric pressure, the electrospraying system produces the reasonably uniform-sized droplets of smaller size, so the films have a smooth surface and are highly suited for optoelectronic applications.