Acta Phys. -Chim. Sin. ›› 2019, Vol. 35 ›› Issue (4): 401-407.doi: 10.3866/PKU.WHXB201803131

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Low-Cost Fullerene Derivative as an Efficient Electron Transport Layer for Planar Perovskite Solar Cells

Rui CHEN1,Wei WANG1,Tongle BU1,Zhiliang KU1,Jie ZHONG1,Yong PENG1,Shengqiang XIAO1,*(),Wei YOU1,2,Fuzhi HUANG1,*(),Yibing CHENG1,3,Zhengyi FU1   

  1. 1 State Key Laboratory of Advanced Technology for Materials Synthesis and Processing, Wuhan University of Technology, Wuhan 430070, P. R. China.
    2 Department of Chemistry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599-3290, USA.
    3 Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Monash University, VIC 3800, Australia
  • Received:2018-02-22 Published:2018-09-13
  • Contact: Shengqiang XIAO,Fuzhi HUANG;
  • Supported by:
    the National Natural Science Foundation of China(51672202);the National Natural Science Foundation of China(21673170);the Technological Innovation Key Project of Hubei Province, China(2016AAA041);the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, China(WUT:2016IVA085)


Organic-inorganic hybrid perovskite solar cells (PSCs) have attracted significant attention owing to their high absorption coefficient and ambipolar charge transport properties. With only several years of development, the power conversion efficiency (PCE) has increased from 3.8% to 22.7%. In general, PSCs have two types of structural architecture: mesoporous and planar. The latter possesses higher potential for commercialization due to its simpler structure and fabrication process, especially the inverted planar structure, which possesses negligible hysteresis. In an inverted PSC, the electron transport materials (ETM) are deposited on a perovskite film. Only a few ETMs can be used for inverted PSCs as the perovskite film is easily damaged by the solvent used to dissolve the ETM. Furthermore, the energy levels of the ETM should be well aligned with that of the perovskites. Normally it is difficult to use inorganic ETMs as they require high temperatures for the annealing process to improve the electron conductivity; the perovskite film cannot sustain these high temperatures. To date, the fullerene derivative, [6, 6]-phenyl-C61-butyric acid methyl ester (PCBM), is the most commonly used organic ETM for high efficiency inverted planar PSCs. However, the high manufacturing cost due to its complex synthesis retards the industrialization of the PSCs. Here, we introduce a fullerene pyrrolidine derivative, N-methyl-2-pentyl-[60]fullerene pyrrolidine (NMPFP), synthesized via the Prato reaction of C60 directly with cheap hexanal and sarcosine. Then the NMPFP electron transport layer (ETL) was prepared by a simple solution process. The properties of the resulting NMPFP ETLs were characterized using UV-Vis absorption spectroscopy, cyclic voltammetry measurements, atomic force microscopy, and conductivity test. From the results of the UV-Vis absorption spectroscopy and cyclic voltammetry measurements, the LUMO level of NMPFP ETL was calculated to be 0.2 eV higher than that of the PCBM ETL. This contributes to a higher open-circuit photovoltage. In addition, the NMPFP film presented higher conductivity than the PCBM film. Thus, the photo-generated charge carriers in the perovskite films should be transported more efficiently to the NMPFP electron transport layer (ETL) than to the PCBM ETL. This was confirmed by the results of the steady-state photoluminescence spectroscopy. Finally, the NMPFP as an alternative low-cost ETL was employed in an inverted planar PSC to evaluate the device performance. The device made with the NMPFP ETL yielded an efficiency of 13.83% with negligible hysteresis, which is comparable to the PCBM counterpart devices. Moreover, since stability is another important parameter retarding the commercialization of PSCs, the stability of the PCBM and NMPFP base PSCs were investigated and compared. It was found that the NMPFP devices possessed significantly improved stability due to the higher hydrophobicity of the NMPFP. In conclusion, this research demonstrates that NMPFP is a promising ETL to replace PCBM for the industrialization of cheap, efficient and stable inverted planar PSCs.

Key words: Inverted perovskite solar cells, Electron transport layer, Low cost, PCBM, Fullerene derivative


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