Dedoping-induced interfacial instability of poly(ethylene imine)s-treated PEDOT:PSS as a low-work-function electrode†
Transparent organic electrodes printed from high-conductivity PEDOT:PSS have become essential for upscaling all-carbon based, low-cost optoelectronic devices. In the printing process, low-work-function PEDOT:PSS electrodes (cathode) are achieved by coating an ultra-thin, non-conjugated polyelectrolyte that is rich in amine groups, such as poly(ethylene imine) (PEI) or its ethoxylated derivative (PEIE), onto PEDOT:PSS surfaces. Here, we mapped the physical and chemical processes that occur at the interface between thin PEIx (indicating either PEI or PEIE) and PEDOT:PSS during printing. We identify that there is a dedoping effect of PEDOT induced by the PEIx. Using infrared spectroscopy, we found that the amine-rich PEIx can form chemical bonds with the dopant, PSS. At lower PSS concentration, PEIx also shows an electron-transfer effect to the charged PEDOT chain. These interface reactions lock the surface morphology of PEDOT:PSS, preventing the redistribution of PSS, and reduce the work function. Subsequent exposure to oxygen during the device fabrication process, on the other hand, can result in redoping of the low-work-function PEDOT:PSS interface, causing problems for printing reproducible devices under ambient conditions.