Influence of electrode surface composition and energetics on small-molecule organic solar cell performance: Polar versus nonpolar donors on indium tin oxide contacts

Jeremy Gantz, Diogenes Placencia, Anthony Giordano, Seth R. Marder, Neal R. Armstrong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


We present a systematic study of the band-edge energy offsets and shifts in local vacuum levels for indium tin oxide (ITO)/donor heterojunctions, using vacuum-deposited chloroindium phthalocyanine (ClInPc), titanyl phthalocyanine (TiOPc), pentacene (PEN), and copper phthalocyanine (CuPc) donor layers. We include a comparison of the performance of ITO/donor/C60 planar heterojunction (PHJ) organic solar cells (OPVs) as a function of activation and modification of the ITO contact. UV photoemission spectroscopy (UPS) was used to characterize the interfacial region between these donors and ITO to infer the ordering of these first deposited 1-2 monolayers as a function of ITO activation and modification. For the polar donors ClInPc and TiOPc, deposited on air plasma (AP) treated, high work function ITO (φeff ≈ 5.1-5.2 eV), shifts in local vacuum level observed during deposition of the first two monolayers of donor molecules suggest that the halo-metal or oxo-metal bond points (on average) toward the oxide surface in the first monolayer. Inversion of this orientation is inferred during formation of the second monolayer. Thin-film absorbance data for the Q-band spectra of ClInPc or TiOPc 1-2 monolayers on AP-ITO confirmed the organization of the first deposited layers. Use of nonactivated ITO contacts, or contacts modified with pentafluorobenzylphosphonic acid (F5BPA), disrupts this order in the first two monolayers as revealed in the UPS and absorbance data, leading to decreases in OPV open-circuit photopotential (VOC), fill factor (FF), and efficiency (η). For nonpolar donors like PEN and CuPc, shifts in local vacuum level as a function of donor coverage were less sensitive to ITO surface composition, and PEN-based OPVs show relatively invariant VOC, J SC, FF, and η values regardless of ITO pretreatment or F 5BPA modification.The interaction of ClInPc donor layers with AP-ITO is strong enough to generate photovoltaic activity in the absence of a C 60 acceptor layer (ITO/ClInPc/Al device configurations), where photocurrent appears to be generated at the ITO/ClInPc interface. Such an effect is not seen for ITO/ClInPc/Al devices on nonactivated ITO substrates, highlighting the importance of the interactions between the donor layer and the hole-harvesting interface in PHJ OPVs. These results suggest that the organization of a dipolar donor layer at a hole-harvesting oxide contact can affect OPV performance where charge harvesting efficiency is sensitive to molecular organization in the interfacial region near the contact.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1205-1216
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry C
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 24 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Energy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


Dive into the research topics of 'Influence of electrode surface composition and energetics on small-molecule organic solar cell performance: Polar versus nonpolar donors on indium tin oxide contacts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this