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

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.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

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.

References

  1. 1.

    Roundy, S., Wright, P. K. & Rabaey, J. A study of low level vibrations as a power source for wireless sensor nodes. Comput. Commun. 26, 1131–1144 (2003).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Tsai, H. et al. High-efficiency two-dimensional Ruddlesden–Popper perovskite solar cells. Nature 536, 312–316 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Kaltenbrunner, M. et al. Flexible high power-per-weight perovskite solar cells with chromium oxide–metal contacts for improved stability in air. Nat. Mater. 14, 1032–1039 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Chung, I., Lee, B., He, J., Chang, R. P. H. & Kanatzidis, M. G. All-solid-state dye-sensitized solar cells with high efficiency. Nature 485, 486–489 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Mathew, S. et al. Dye-sensitized solar cells with 13% efficiency achieved through the molecular engineering of porphyrin sensitizers. Nat. Chem. 6, 242–247 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Bernechea, M. et al. Solution-processed solar cells based on environmentally friendly AgBiS2 nanocrystals. Nat. Photonics 10, 521–525 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Sun, Y. et al. Solution-processed small-molecule solar cells with 6.7% efficiency. Nat. Mater. 11, 44–48 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Zhang, Q. et al. Small-molecule solar cells with efficiency over 9%. Nat. Photonics 9, 35–41 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Duan, C., Zhang, K., Zhong, C., Huang, F. & Cao, Y. Recent advances in water/alcohol-soluble π-conjugated materials: new materials and growing applications in solar cells. Chem. Soc. Rev. 42, 9071–104 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Peet, J., Heeger, A. J. & Bazan, G. C. ‘Plastic’ solar cells: self-assembly of bulk heterojunction nanomaterials by spontaneous phase separation. Acc. Chem. Res. 42, 1700–1708 (2009).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Günes, S., Neugebauer, H. & Sariciftci, N. S. Conjugated polymer-based organic solar cells. Chem. Rev. 107, 1324–1338 (2007).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Liao, S.-H. et al. Single junction inverted polymer solar cell reaching power conversion efficiency 10.31% by employing dual-doped zinc oxide nano-film as cathode interlayer. Sci. Rep. 4, 6813 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    He, Z. et al. Single-junction polymer solar cells with high efficiency and photovoltage. Nat. Photonics 9, 174–179 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Liu, Y. et al. Aggregation and morphology control enables multiple cases of high-efficiency polymer solar cells. Nat. Commun. 5, 5293 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Zhao, J. et al. Efficient organic solar cells processed from hydrocarbon solvents. Nat. Energy 1, 15027 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Manceau, M. et al. Photochemical stability of π-conjugated polymers for polymer solar cells: a rule of thumb. J. Mater. Chem. 21, 4132 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Holliday, S. et al. High-efficiency and air-stable P3HT-based polymer solar cells with a new non-fullerene acceptor. Nat. Commun. 7, 11585 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Sun, Y., Seo, J. H., Takacs, C. J., Seifter, J. & Heeger, A. J. Inverted polymer solar cells integrated with a low-temperature-annealed sol-gel-derived ZnO film as an electron transport layer. Adv. Mater. 23, 1679–1683 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Lipomi, D. J., Tee, B. C. K., Vosgueritchian, M. & Bao, Z. Stretchable organic solar cells. Adv. Mater. 23, 1771–1775 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Kaltenbrunner, M. et al. Ultrathin and lightweight organic solar cells with high flexibility. Nat. Commun. 3, 770 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Yokota, T. et al. Ultraflexible organic photonic skin. Sci. Adv. 2, e1501856 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Dennler, G., Lungenschmied, C., Neugebauer, H., Sariciftci, N. S. & Labouret, A. Flexible, conjugated polymer-fullerene-based bulk-heterojunction solar cells: Basics, encapsulation, and integration. J. Mater. Res. 20, 3224–3233 (2005).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Dennler, G., Scharber, M. C. & Brabec, C. J. Polymer-fullerene bulk-heterojunction solar cells. Adv. Mater. 21, 1323–1338 (2009).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Kim, D.-H. et al. Stretchable and foldable silicon integrated circuits. Science 320, 507–511 (2008).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Vohra, V. et al. Efficient inverted polymer solar cells employing favourable molecular orientation. Nat. Photonics 9, 403–408 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Nielsen, L. D. Distributed series resistance effects in solar cells. IEEE Trans. Electron Devices 29, 821–827 (1982).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Gevorgyan, S. A. et al. An inter-laboratory stability study of roll-to-roll coated flexible polymer solar modules. Sol. Energy Mater. Sol. Cells 95, 1398–1416 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Yokota, T. et al. Ultraflexible, large-area, physiological temperature sensors for multipoint measurements. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 112, 14533–14538 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Yamada, T. et al. A stretchable carbon nanotube strain sensor for human-motion detection. Nat. Nanotechnol. 6, 296–301 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Mourad, M. M., Elshakankery, M. H. & Almetwally, A. A. Physical and stretch properties of woven cotton fabrics containing different rates of spandex. J. Am. Sci 8, 567–572 (2012).

    Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    Osaka, I. et al. Synthesis, characterization, and transistor and solar cell applications of a naphthobisthiadiazole-based semiconducting polymer. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 134, 3498–3507 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    Tremolet De Villers, B. J. et al. Removal of residual diiodooctane improves photostability of high-performance organic solar cell polymers. Chem. Mater. 28, 876–884 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

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

Affiliations

Authors

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.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Kenjiro Fukuda or Takao Someya.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Additional information

Publisher’s note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Electronic supplementary material

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.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

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). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41560-017-0001-3

Download citation

Further reading