Article

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

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Abstract

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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Acknowledgements

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.

Author information

Author notes

    • Yasuhito Suzuki
    •  & Itaru Osaka

    Present address: Department of Applied Chemistry, Graduate School of Engineering, Hiroshima University, 1-4-1 Kagamiyama, Higashi-Hiroshima, Hiroshima, 739-8527, Japan

Affiliations

  1. RIKEN Center for Emergent Matter Science (CEMS), 2-1 Hirosawa, Wako, Saitama, 351-0198, Japan

    • Hiroaki Jinno
    • , Kenjiro Fukuda
    • , Xiaomin Xu
    • , Sungjun Park
    • , Yasuhito Suzuki
    • , Itaru Osaka
    • , Kazuo Takimiya
    •  & Takao Someya
  2. Electrical and Electronic Engineering and Information Systems, The University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 113-8656, Japan

    • Hiroaki Jinno
    • , Mari Koizumi
    • , Tomoyuki Yokota
    •  & Takao Someya
  3. Thin-Film Device Laboratory, RIKEN, 2-1 Hirosawa, Wako, Saitama, 351-0198, Japan

    • Kenjiro Fukuda
    •  & Takao Someya
  4. Japan Science and Technology Agency, PRESTO, 4-1-8 Honcho, Kawaguchi, Saitama, 332-0012, Japan

    • Kenjiro Fukuda
  5. Exploratory Research for Advanced Technology (ERATO), Japan Science and Technology Agency, 2-11-16 Yayoi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 113-0032, Japan

    • Mari Koizumi
    • , Tomoyuki Yokota
    •  & Takao Someya

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Contributions

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.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Kenjiro Fukuda or Takao Someya.

Electronic supplementary material

  1. Supplementary Information

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

  2. Supplementary Video 1

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