Stretching and conformal bonding of organic solar cells to hemispherical surfaces
This paper describes the stretching and conformal bonding (i.e., decal-transfer printing) of organic solar cells in both the “conventional” and “inverted” configurations to hemispherical glass surfaces with radii of 8 mm. This action produces equivalent biaxial tensile strains of 24%, which many materials used in organic electronic devices cannot accommodate without fracture. Consideration of the mechanical properties of conjugated polymers reveals a surprising effect of a single structural parameter—the length of the alkyl side chain—on the elasticity and ductility of regioregular polythiophene. This analysis enables selection of materials that can accommodate sufficient tensile strain for non-planar applications. For polymer–fullerene solar cells, devices based on the elastic and ductile poly(3-octylthiophene) (P3OT) exhibit typical photovoltaic properties when bonded to hemispherical glass substrates, while those based on the relatively brittle poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) exhibit extensive cracking, which degrades the photovoltaic effect significantly. The results suggest that mechanical properties should be taken into account when designing and selecting organic semiconductors for applications that demand significant deformation.