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Stretchable and waterproof elastomer-coated organic photovoltaics for washable electronic textile applications


Textile-compatible photovoltaics play a crucial role as a continuous source of energy in wearable devices. In contrast to other types of energy harvester, they can harvest sufficient electricity (on the order of milliwatts) for wearable devices by utilizing the cloth itself as the platform for photovoltaics. Three features are important for textile-compatible photovoltaics, namely environmental stability, sufficient energy efficiency and mechanical robustness. However, achieving these simultaneously remains difficult because of the low gas barrier properties of ultrathin superstrates and substrates. Here, we report on ultraflexible organic photovoltaics coated on both sides with elastomer that simultaneously realize stretchability and stability in water whilst maintaining a high efficiency of 7.9%. The efficiency of double-side-coated devices decreases only by 5.4% after immersion in water for 120 min. Furthermore, the efficiency of the devices remains at 80% of the initial value even after 52% mechanical compression for 20 cycles with 100 min of water exposure.

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Fig. 1: Washable and stretchable OPVs.
Fig. 2: PV characteristics of the free-standing OPVs. Note that all of the measurements are performed in air.
Fig. 3: Mechanical flexibility of double-side-coated OPVs.
Fig. 4: Water stability.


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This work was financially supported by the JST PRESTO (grant number JPMJPR1428) and JST ERATO Bio-Harmonized Electronics Project (grant number JPMJER1105). The authors would like to thank K. Tajima and K. Nakano of CEMS, RIKEN (Japan) and H. Kimura of Waseda University (Japan) for their technical support and helpful discussions. The authors also thank D. D. Ordinario of The University of Tokyo (Japan) for editing and proofreading the manuscript.

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Authors and Affiliations



H.J., K.F. and T.S. conceived and designed the research. Y.S., I.O. and K.T. synthesized the polymer material. M.K. and T.Y. fabricated the ultrathin film substrates. H.J., X.X. and S.P. fabricated the OPVs and characterized the devices. H.J., K.F. X.X. and S.P. analysed the data and designed the figures. H.J., K.F., X.X., S.P. and T.S. wrote the manuscript with comments from all of the co-authors. T.S. supervised the project.

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Correspondence to Kenjiro Fukuda or Takao Someya.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figures 1–14, Supplementary Tables 1 and 2, Supplementary References

Supplementary Video 1

Washing process using detergent for the freestanding OPVs with a stain on the surface.

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Jinno, H., Fukuda, K., Xu, X. et al. Stretchable and waterproof elastomer-coated organic photovoltaics for washable electronic textile applications. Nat Energy 2, 780–785 (2017).

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