Efficient Modification of Metal Oxide Surfaces with Phosphonic Acids by Spray Coating

Anuradha Bulusu, Sergio A. Paniagua, Bradley A. Macleod, Ajaya K. Sigdel, Joseph J. Berry, Dana C. Olson, Seth R. Marder, Samuel Graham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus Citations


We report a rapid method of depositing phosphonic acid molecular groups onto conductive metal oxide surfaces. Solutions of pentafluorobenzyl phosphonic acid (PFBPA) were deposited on indium tin oxide, indium zinc oxide, nickel oxide, and zinc oxide by spray coating substrates heated to temperatures between 25 and 150 C using a 60 s exposure time. Comparisons of coverage and changes in work function were made to the more conventional dip-coating method utilizing a 1 h exposure time. The data show that the work function shifts and surface coverage by the phosphonic acid were similar to or greater than those obtained by the dip-coating method. When the deposition temperature was increased, the magnitude of the surface coverage and work function shift was also found to increase. The rapid exposure of the spray coating was found to result in less etching of zinc-containing oxides than the dip-coating method. Bulk heterojunction solar cells made of polyhexylthiophene (P3HT) and bis-indene-C60 (ICBA) were tested with PFBPA dip and spray-modified ITO substrates as well as poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene)/ poly(styrenesulfonate) (PEDOT:PSS)-modified ITO. The spray-modified ITO solar cells showed a similar open circuit voltage (VOC) and fill factor (FF) and a less than 5% lower short circuit current density (JSC) and power conversion efficiency (PCE) than the dip- and PEDOT:PSS-modified ITO. These results demonstrate a potential path to a scalable method to deposit phosphonic acid surface modifiers on metal oxides while overcoming the limitations of other techniques that require long exposure and post-processing times.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)3935-3942
Number of pages8
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2013

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5200-58657


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