The Effect of Atmosphere and ZnO Morphology on the Performance of Hybrid Poly(3-hexylthiophene)/ZnO Nanofiber Photovoltaic Devices

Dana C. Olson, Sean E. Shaheen, Reuben T. Collins, David S. Ginley

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215 Scopus Citations


We present detailed investigations of the fabrication and characterization of photovoltaic devices consisting of poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) intercalated into a mesoporous structure of ZnO nanofibers. ZnO nanofibers were grown via a low-temperature hydrothermal route from a solution of zinc nitrate precursor. P3HT was spin-coated on top of the structure, and intercalation into the voids between the nanofibers was induced with annealing. A silver electrode was used as the top contact. Spin-coating, storage, and testing of the device were performed in air. We discuss the effects of atmosphere and ZnO nanofiber morphology on device performance. Optimized nanofiber devices exhibited a 4-fold increase in the short circuit current (2.17 mA/cm 2) as compared to that of a planar ZnO-P3HT bilayer device (0.52 mA/cm 2) as a result of the increased donor-acceptor interfacial area. The efficiency of the nanofiber based device under 1 sun-simulated solar illumination was 0.53% and was found to increase at higher incident light intensities, reaching a value of 0.61% at 2.5 suns. Additionally, we found that for these devices fabrication in and exposure to air is required to obtain good diode characteristics. We also show that the morphology of the ZnO nanostructures in the nanocomposite directly impacts device performance. Treatment of the ZnO surface using surfactants increased the open circuit voltage at the expense of the short circuit current; however, there was little effect on overall device efficiency. Because of the inverted geometry of this device that allowed for the use of a silver top contact, the device was not susceptible to oxidative degradation when stored in the dark.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)16670-16678
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry C
Issue number44
StatePublished - 8 Nov 2007

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-520-42614


  • characterization
  • fabrication
  • morphology
  • nanofibers
  • photovoltaic devices


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