Autonomous smart windows may be integrated with a stack of active components, such as electrochromic devices, to modulate the opacity/transparency by an applied voltage. Here, we describe the processing and performance of two classes of visibly-transparent photovoltaic materials, namely inorganic (ZnO thin film) and fully organic (PCDTBT:PC70BM), for integration with electrochromic stacks.
Sputtered ZnO (2% Mn) films on ITO, with transparency in the visible range, were used to fabricate metal-semiconductor (MS), metal-insulator-semiconductor (MIS), and p-i-n heterojunction devices, and their photovoltaic conversion under ultraviolet (UV) illumination was evaluated with and without oxygen plasma-treated surface electrodes (Au, Ag, Al, and Ti/Ag). The MS Schottky parameters were fitted against the generalized Bardeen model to obtain the density of interface states (Dit ≈ 8.0×1011 eV−1cm−2) and neutral level (Eo ≈ -5.2 eV). These devices exhibited photoconductive behavior at λ = 365 nm, and low-noise Ag-ZnO detectors exhibited responsivity (R) and photoconductive gain (G) of 1.93×10−4 A/W and 6.57×10−4, respectively. Confirmed via matched-pair analysis, post-metallization, oxygen plasma treatment of Ag and Ti/Ag electrodes resulted in increased Schottky barrier heights, which maximized with a 2 nm SiO2 electron blocking layer (EBL), coupled with the suppression of recombination at the metal/semiconductor interface and blocking of majority carriers. For interdigitated devices under monochromatic UV-C illumination, the open-circuit voltage (Voc) was 1.2 V and short circuit current density (Jsc), due to minority carrier tunneling, was 0.68 mA/cm2.
A fully organic bulk heterojunction photovoltaic device, composed of poly[N-9’-heptadecanyl-2,7-carbazole-alt-5,5-(4’,7’-di-2-thienyli2’,1’,3’-benzothiadiazole)]:phenyl-C71-butyric-acidmethyl (PCDTBT:PC70BM), with corresponding electron and hole transport layers, i.e., LiF with Al contact and conducting
on-conducting (nc) PEDOT:PSS (with ITO/PET or Ag nanowire/PDMS contacts; the illuminating side), respectively, was developed. The PCDTBT/PC70BM/PEDOT:PSS(nc)/ITO/PET stack exhibited the highest performance: power conversion efficiency (PCE) ≈ 3%, Voc = 0.9V, and Jsc ≈ 10-15 mA/cm2. These stacks exhibited high visible range transparency, and provided the requisite power for a switchable electrochromic stack having an inkjet-printed, optically-active layer of tungsten trioxide (WO3), peroxo-tungstic acid dihydrate, and titania (TiO2) nano-particle-based blend. The electrochromic stacks (i.e., PET/ITO/LiClO4/WO3 on ITO/PET and Ag nanowire/PDMS substrates) exhibited optical switching under external bias from the PV stack (or an electrical outlet), with 7 s coloration time, 8 s bleaching time, and 0.36-0.75 optical modulation at λ = 525 nm. The devices were paired using an Internet of Things controller that enabled wireless switching.