Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

An alcohol-dispersed conducting polymer complex for fully printable organic solar cells with improved stability


Efficient and stable organic solar cells via full coating are highly desirable. Poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene):polystyrene sulfonate (PEDOT:PSS) is a classic conducting polymer complex and widely used for hole collection in fully printable devices. However, PEDOT:PSS is typically dispersed in water and exhibits strong acidity that deteriorates device efficiency and stability. Here we report an alcohol-dispersed formulation (denoted as PEDOT:F) by adopting perfluorinated sulfonic acid ionomers as counterions. The ionomers have a special advantage of having two solubility parameters and can be dispersed in water or alcohols, which enables us to prepare PEDOT:F formulations dispersed in alcohols. The alcohol-dispersed formulation has good wetting properties and low acidity, which avoids the drawbacks of aqueous PEDOT:PSS. Fully printable organic photovoltaics (from bottom electrode to top electrode) based on PEDOT:F were obtained with a power conversion efficiency of 15% and could retain 83% of the initial efficiency under continuous illumination at maximum power point tracking for 1,330 h.

This is a preview of subscription content

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: Dissolution of polymer counterions in water and ethanol.
Fig. 2: Properties of alcohol-based PEDOT:F formulation versus traditional PEDOT:PSS.
Fig. 3: Universality of alcohol-dispersed PEDOT:F applied in OSCs.
Fig. 4: Performance of fully printable OSCs with PEDOT:F HTL.

Data availability

The datasets analysed and generated during the current study are included in the paper and its Supplementary Information. Source data are provided with this paper.


  1. Cheng, Y.-B., Pascoe, A., Huang, F. & Peng, Y. Print flexible solar cells. Nature 539, 488–489 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Hou, J., Inganäs, O., Friend, R. H. & Gao, F. Organic solar cells based on non-fullerene acceptors. Nat. Mater. 17, 119–128 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Qian, D. et al. Design rules for minimizing voltage losses in high-efficiency organic solar cells. Nat. Mater. 17, 703–709 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Wang, G., Adil, M. A., Zhang, J. & Wei, Z. Large-area organic solar cells: material requirements, modular designs, and printing methods. Adv. Mater. 31, 1805089 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Andersen, T. R. et al. Scalable, ambient atmosphere roll-to-roll manufacture of encapsulated large area, flexible organic tandem solar cell modules. Energy Environ. Sci. 7, 2925–2933 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Li, C. et al. Non-fullerene acceptors with branched side chains and improved molecular packing to exceed 18% efficiency in organic solar cells. Nat. Energy 6, 605–613 (2021).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Zheng, Z. et al. Tandem organic solar cell with 20.2% efficiency. Joule 6, 171–184 (2022).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Meng, L. et al. Organic and solution-processed tandem solar cells with 17.3% efficiency. Science 361, 1094–1098 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Guo, F. et al. ITO-free and fully solution-processed semitransparent organic solar cells with high Fill factors. Adv. Energy Mater. 3, 1062–1067 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Carlé, J. E. et al. Overcoming the scaling lag for polymer solar cells. Joule 1, 274–289 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Czolk, J., Landerer, D., Koppitz, M., Nass, D. & Colsmann, A. Highly efficient, mechanically flexible, semi-transparent organic solar cells doctor Bbaded from non-halogenated solvents. Adv. Mater. Technol. 1, 1600184 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Eggenhuisen, T. M. et al. High efficiency, fully inkjet printed organic solar cells with freedom of design. J. Mater. Chem. A 3, 7255–7262 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Strohm, S. et al. P3HT: non-fullerene acceptor based large area, semi-transparent PV modules with power conversion efficiencies of 5%, processed by industrially scalable methods. Energy Environ. Sci. 11, 2225–2234 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Park, S. et al. Progress in materials, solution processes, and long-term stability for large-area organic photovoltaics. Adv. Mater. 32, 2002217 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Sun, L. et al. Flexible all-solution-processed organic solar cells with high-performance nonfullerene active layers. Adv. Mater. 32, 1907840 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Guo, X. & Facchetti, A. The journey of conducting polymers from discovery to application. Nat. Mater. 19, 922–928 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Jiang, Y., Liu, T. & Zhou, Y. Recent advances of synthesis, properties, film fabrication methods, modifications of poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene), and applications in solution-processed photovoltaics. Adv. Funct. Mater. 30, 2006213 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Sun, K. et al. Review on application of PEDOTs and PEDOT:PSS in energy conversion and storage devices. J. Mater. Sci.: Mater. Electron. 26, 4438–4462 (2015).

    Google Scholar 

  19. Cameron, J. & Skabara, P. J. The damaging effects of the acidity in PEDOT:PSS on semiconductor device performance and solutions based on non-acidic alternatives. Mater. Horiz. 7, 1759–1772 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. de Jong, M. P., van Ijzendoorn, L. J. & de Voigt, M. J. A. Stability of the interface between indium-tin-oxide and poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene)/poly(styrenesulfonate) in polymer light-emitting diodes. Appl. Phys. Lett. 77, 2255–2257 (2000).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Kim, S., Kim, S. Y., Chung, M. H., Kim, J. & Kim, J. H. A one-step roll-to-roll process of stable AgNW/PEDOT:PSS solution using imidazole as a mild base for highly conductive and transparent films: optimizations and mechanisms. J. Mater. Chem. C. 3, 5859–5868 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. van der Poll, T. S., Love, J. A., Nguyen, T.-Q. & Bazan, G. C. Non-basic high-performance molecules for solution-processed organic solar cells. Adv. Mater. 24, 3646–3649 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Du, X. et al. Overcoming interfacial losses in solution-processed organic multi-junction solar cells. Adv. Energy Mater. 7, 1601959 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Mochizuki, Y., Horii, T. & Okuzaki, H. Effect of pH on structure and conductivity of PEDOT/PSS. Trans. Mater. Res. Soc. Japan 37, 307–310 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Moet, D. J. D., de Bruyn, P. & Blom, P. W. M. High work function transparent middle electrode for organic tandem solar cells. Appl. Phys. Lett. 96, 153504 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Cheng, P. & Zhan, X. Stability of organic solar cells: challenges and strategies. Chem. Soc. Rev. 45, 2544–2582 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Adams, J. et al. Water ingress in encapsulated inverted organic solar cells: correlating infrared imaging and photovoltaic performance. Adv. Energy Mater. 5, 1501065 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Züfle, S. et al. An effective area approach to model lateral degradation in organic solar cells. Adv. Energy Mater. 5, 1500835 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Nikolka, M. et al. High operational and environmental stability of high-mobility conjugated polymer field-effect transistors through the use of molecular additives. Nat. Mater. 16, 356–362 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Zuo, G., Linares, M., Upreti, T. & Kemerink, M. General rule for the energy of water-induced traps in organic semiconductors. Nat. Mater. 18, 588–593 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Maisch, P. et al. A generic surfactant-free approach to overcome wetting limitations and its application to improve inkjet-printed P3HT:non-fullerene acceptor PV. J. Mater. Chem. A 7, 13215–13224 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Murray-Rust, D. M. & Hartley, H. B. The dissociation of acids in methyl and in ethyl alcohol. Proc. R. Soc. London A 126, 84–106 (1929).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Ferrell, W. H., Kushner, D. I. & Hickner, M. A. Investigation of polymer–solvent interactions in poly(styrene sulfonate) thin films. J. Polym. Sci. B 55, 1365–1372 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Barton, A. F. M. Solubility parameters. Chem. Rev. 75, 731–753 (1975).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Kusoglu, A. & Weber, A. Z. New insights into perfluorinated sulfonic-acid ionomers. Chem. Rev. 117, 987–1104 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Hou, X. et al. Improvement of the power conversion efficiency and long term stability of polymer solar cells by incorporation of amphiphilic Nafion doped PEDOT-PSS as a hole extraction layer. J. Mater. Chem. A 3, 18727–18734 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Lee, T. W., Chung, Y., Kwon, O. & Park, J. J. Self-organized gradient hole injection to improve the performance of polymer electroluminescent devices. Adv. Funct. Mater. 17, 390–396 (2007).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Cho, H. et al. Overcoming the electroluminescence efficiency limitations of perovskite light-emitting diodes. Science 350, 1222–1225 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Lim, K.-G., Ahn, S., Kim, Y.-H., Qi, Y. & Lee, T.-W. Universal energy level tailoring of self-organized hole extraction layers in organic solar cells and organic–inorganic hybrid perovskite solar cells. Energy Environ. Sci. 9, 932–939 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Li, W.-L. et al. Perfluorinated ionomer and poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) colloid as a hole transporting layer for optoelectronic devices. J. Mater. Chem. A 9, 17967–17977 (2021).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Howells, C. T. et al. Influence of perfluorinated ionomer in PEDOT:PSS on the rectification and degradation of organic photovoltaic cells. J. Mater. Chem. A 6, 16012–16028 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Tang, H., Shang, Y., Zhou, W., Peng, Z. & Ning, Z. Energy level tuning of PEDOT:PSS for high performance tin–lead mixed perovskite solar cells. Sol. RRL 3, 1800256 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Yeo, R. S. Dual cohesive energy densities of perfluorosulphonic acid (Nafion) membrane. Polymer 21, 432–435 (1980).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Hotchkiss, P. J. et al. The modification of indium tin oxide with phosphonic acids: mechanism of binding, tuning of surface properties, and potential for use in organic electronic applications. Acc. Chem. Res. 45, 337–346 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Tan, J.-K., Png, R.-Q., Zhao, C. & Ho, P. K. H. Ohmic transition at contacts key to maximizing fill factor and performance of organic solar cells. Nat. Commun. 9, 3269 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Friedel, B. et al. Effects of layer thickness and annealing of PEDOT:PSS layers in organic photodetectors. Macromolecules 42, 6741–6747 (2009).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Qin, F. et al. Robust metal ion-chelated polymer interfacial layer for ultraflexible non-fullerene organic solar cells. Nat. Commun. 11, 4508 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


The work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant numbers 51973074, 51773072 and 61804060) and the special innovation funds of Wuhan National Laboratory for Optoelectronics. The authors would also like to thank the Analytical and Testing Center of Huazhong University of Science and Technology for providing the facilities to conduct characterizations.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



Y.J., X.D. and L.S. contributed equally. Y.J. and Y.Z. conceived the idea and supervised the research. Y.J. designed and synthesized the PEDOT:F. Y.J. and X.D. performed the characterization of PEDOT:F. T.L. and F.Q. measured the work function. C.X. measured the external quantum efficiency. P.J. and L.H. performed fabrication and characterization of MoO3-based cells. Y.J., X.D. and L.S. fabricated and tested the fully printed devices. X.L. tested PEDOT:F in OSCs with a conventional configuration. X.Z. studied the effect of surfactants on the device performance. W.M. tested the PEDOT:F in n–i–p perovskite solar cells. Y.Z., N.L. and C.J.B. coordinated this work. Y.J. wrote the first draft of the manuscript. All the authors revised and approved the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Yinhua Zhou.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Peer review

Peer review information

Nature Energy thanks Ergang Wang and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

Additional information

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

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figs. 1–25, Tables 1–9 and References.

Reporting Summary

Supplementary Data 1

Source data of Supplementary Fig. 19.

Supplementary Data 2

Source data of Supplementary Fig. 21.

Source data

Source Data Fig. 2

(Fig. 2c) Source data of absorbance spectra of ZnO films with and without PEDOT:F or PEDOT:PSS coating. d, Statistical source data of work function of PEDOT:F films.

Source Data Fig. 3

(Fig. 3b) Statistical source data of PCE of cells with different active layers. ce, Source data of JV characteristics of cells with PEDOT:F processed from different conditions and statistical source data of PCE of cells with PEDOT:F processed from different conditions.

Source Data Fig. 4

(Fig. 4b) Source data of JV characteristics of fully coated solar cells and statistical source data of PCE of fully coated solar cells. c, Source data of PCE evolution as a function of time under illumination of fully coated solar cells. e, Source data of JV characteristics of fully coated solar modules.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Jiang, Y., Dong, X., Sun, L. et al. An alcohol-dispersed conducting polymer complex for fully printable organic solar cells with improved stability. Nat Energy 7, 352–359 (2022).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing