Patterning PEDOT:PSS and tailoring its electronic properties by water-vapour-assisted nanoimprint lithography†
We present a new water-vapour-assisted nanoimprint lithography (NIL) process for the patterning of the conducting poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene):poly(styrenesulfonate) (PEDOT:PSS). The process was optimized with respect to relative humidity, applied pressure and temperature (RH, p, T). The control of environmental humidity was found to be crucial. High quality nanostructures were reproducibly obtained at high relative humidity values (RH ≳ 75%), with sub-100 nm resolution features attaining aspect ratios as high as ∼6 at ∼95% RH. The developed process of water-vapour-assisted NIL (WVA-NIL) strongly affects the electronic properties of PEDOT:PSS. By current–voltage measurements and ultraviolet photoemission spectroscopy we demonstrate that the process parameters p, T and RH are correlated with changes of PEDOT:PSS conductivity, work function and states of the valence band. In particular, an increase in the films conductivity by factors as high as 105 and a large decrease in the work function, up to 1.5 eV, upon WVA-NIL processing were observed. Employed as an anode buffer layer in P3HT:ICBA bulk heterojunction solar cells, PEDOT:PSS processing was found to affect significantly the device performance.