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Interface Layer Enabling High Performing OPV Devices on Rough Metallic Substrates

Stage: Development

Organic Photovoltaic (OPV) devices are a rapidly emerging PV technology due to their relatively low production costs and their ability to be processed by mature, high-throughput manufacturing techniques (i.e., roll-to-roll processing). OPV devices with a superstrate configuration, though, require costly screen printed silver or expensive evaporation of metal. Conversely, OPV devices with a substrate configuration utilize rough, inexpensive metal foils, making them a desirable alternative to superstrate configured OPV devices. However, the substrate configuration necessitates different interface layers between the rough, metal layer and the bulk heterojunction layer. For instance, a substrate OPV device with a ZnO interface layer, rough aluminum foils, and a PCBM:P3HT bulk heterojunction layer generates an open-circuit voltage (VOC) of less than 250 mV, compared to the full VOC of approximately 580 mV.

Thus, there is a need for an alternative interface layer to enhance the performance of substrate OPV devices on rough aluminum foils. NREL researchers have developed a novel alternative interface layer for substrate OPV devices on rough aluminum foils that is comprised of Ti/TiOx – ZnO. This novel interface layer is situated between a micron-rough Al foil layer and either a PCBM:P3HT or ICBA:P3HT bulk heterojunction absorber layer. With a PCBM:P3HT bulk heterojunction layer, a ZnO or Ti/TiOx interface layer generates nearly the full open circuit voltage of approximately 580 mV. Furthermore, when paired with a ICBA:P3HT bulk heterojunction layer, this novel Ti/TiOx – ZnO interface layer enables voltages of up to 780 mV. 

For more information, contact Bill Hadley at Bill.Hadley@nrel.gov

ROI 16-106

Applications and Industries

  • Organic PV
  • Building-Integrated Photovoltaics
  • Solar Cells


  • Enables voltages up to 780 mV with ICBA:P3HT bulk heterojunction layers
  • Enables full open circuit voltage of ~580 mV with PCBM:P3HT bulk heterojunction layers
  • Can be processed with roll-to-roll manufacturing
  • Low cost, eliminates the need for screen-printed silver


US Patent Ap...1.pdf

Sep 3, 2019