Donor-acceptor interfacial interactions dominate device performance in hybrid P3HT-ZnO nanowire-array solar cells

Luisa Whittaker-Brooks, William E. McClain, Jeffrey Schwartz, Yueh Lin Loo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The adsorption of self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) on metal oxide surfaces is a promising route to control electronic characteristics and surface wettability. Here, arylphosphonic acid derivatives are used to modulate the surface properties of vertically oriented ZnO nanowire arrays. Arylphosphonate-functionalized ZnO nanowires are incorporated into hybrid organic-inorganic solar cells in which infiltrated poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) serves as the polymer donor. Strong correlations between device short-circuit current density (J sc) and power conversion efficiencies (PCEs) with ZnO surface functionalization species are observed and a weak correlation in the open-circuit voltage (V oc) is observed. Inverted solar cells fabricated with these treated interfaces exhibit PCEs as high as 2.1%, primarily due to improvements in J sc. Analogous devices using untreated ZnO arrays having efficiencies of 1.6%. The enhancement in J sc is attributed to surface passivation of ZnO by SAMs and enhanced wettability from P3HT, which improve charge transfer and reduce carrier recombination at the organic-inorganic interface in the solar cells. The adsorption of interfacial molecular layers provides a way to improve device performance. Arylphosphonate-modified ZnO nanowire array-poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) hybrid photovoltaics are fabricated, and inverted solar cells made with these treated interfaces exhibit power conversion efficiencies as high as 2.1%. This is due to improvements in the short-circuit current density, which can be attributed to surface passivation of ZnO and enhanced wettability from P3HT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAdvanced Energy Materials
Issue number16
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Materials Science


  • donor-acceptor interactions
  • nanowire arrays
  • self-assembled monolayers
  • solar cells
  • surface passivation


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