Elucidating the Role of Conjugated Polyelectrolyte Interlayers for High-Efficiency Organic Photovoltaics

Kyung Geun Lim, Sung Min Park, Han Young Woo, Tae Woo Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Despite the promising function of conjugated polyelectrolytes (CPEs) as an interfacial layer in organic photovoltaics (OPVs), the underlying mechanism of dipole orientation and the electrical characteristics of CPE interlayers remain unclear. Currently, the ionic functionality of CPEs (i.e., whether they are cationic or anionic) is believed to determine the interfacial dipole alignment and the resulting electron or hole extraction properties at the interface between an organic photoactive layer and a metal electrode. In this research, we find that in contrast to this common belief, the photovoltaic efficiency can be improved significantly by both cationic and anionic CPE layers regardless of the ion functionality of the CPE. This improvement occurs because the interfacial dipoles of cationic and anionic CPEs are realigned in the identical direction despite the different ionic functionality. The net dipole is determined not by the intrinsic molecular dipole of the CPE but by the ionic redistribution in the CPE layer and the resulting interfacial dipole at the intimate contact with adjacent layers. We also demonstrated that the energy level alignment and performance parameters of OPVs can be controlled systematically by the electrically poled CPE layers with the oriented interfacial dipoles; the distribution of positive and negative ions in the CPE layer was adjusted by applying an appropriate external electric field, and the energy alignment was reversible by changing the electric field direction. The anionic and cationic CPEs (PSBFP-Na and PAHFP-Br) based on the same π-conjugated backbone of fluorene-phenylene were each used as the electron extraction layer on a photoactive layer. Both anionic and cationic CPE interlayers improved the energy level alignment at the interface between the photoactive layer and the electrode and the resulting performance parameters, which thereby increased the power conversion efficiency to 8.3 %.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3062-3068
Number of pages7
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Sept 1


  • electrolytes
  • electron transport
  • interfaces
  • photovoltaics
  • polymers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Energy(all)


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