Bendable ITO-free Organic Solar Cells with Highly Conductive and Flexible PEDOT:PSS Electrodes on Plastic Substrates

Flexible and transparent electrodes have great potential for photon transmission and charge-carrier collection for next generation electronics compared to rigid electronics with indium tin oxide (ITO)-coated glass substrates. This study describes a comprehensive study of the electrical, morphological, optical, structural, and mechanical properties of poly­(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene):poly­(styrenesulfonate) (PEDOT:PSS) films treated by methanol and methanesulfonic acid (MSA), which are coated on hydrophobic flexible plastic substrates. Such a film coated on hydrophobic plastic substrates exhibits a high conductivity up to 3560 S cm–1 and a good mechanical flexibility. Moreover, the use of the films to fabricate bendable ITO-free organic solar cells (OSCs) integrated on plastic substrates was presented. The bendable devices based on P3HT:PCBM not only exhibit a high power conversion efficiency (PCE) up to 3.92%, which is comparable to 4.30% of the rigid devices with ITO-coated glass substrates, but also keep about 80% in PCE of the initial value after 100 time bending with a bending radius of 14 mm in the ambient atmosphere. This work provides a novel route to dramatically improve the conductivity of PEDOT:PSS electrodes, as well as the mechanical flexibility of highly efficient organic electronics with the flexible electrodes.