Organic Photovoltaic Device Lab

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K-12 Outreach Kits and Labs


One of the hottest research areas is the development of polymer based photovoltaic devices that can be printed. The technology requires a convergence of disciplines of physics, chemistry, materials science and engineering. Much of the research is conducted in organic chemistry labs in which new compounds, and systems of chemicals are designed and synthesized. Building the devices that practically use this chemicals is an engineering problem solving enterprise. Now some proven chemical systems are commercially available opening the possibility of bringing the device construction and characterization into the undergraduate chemistry or physics lab.

In this lab students will spin coat a multilayered organic photovoltaic device and then characterize its physical structure and performance.


The device is some variation of p3ht/pcbm on a layer of pedot-pss.

Standard UW constuction

  1. Clean ITO coated slides as substrate
  2. Spin coat substrate with pedot-pss in normal atmosphere)
  3. Spin coat p3ht/pcbm blend also called the bulk heterojunction BHJ in nitrogen
  4. Anneal device in oven to increase domain and channel size
  5. Evaporate/vacuum coat the aluminum top contact
  6. Characterize the device

Variables to investigate

  • Thickness of BHJ layer
  • Nanowires or nanodots in BHJ layer
  • Variation is annealing time
  • Variations on top contact
  • Variation is pedot-pss layer


Spectral Characterization

  • Measure the transmittance of the organic layers with a spectrometer

Device Characterization


  • AFM measurement of surface of heterojunction interface
  • profilometer or AFM measurement of the thickness of layers
  • measurement of performance under degrading conditions of light, oxygen and water.

Further Research

This research lab is being continued as part of a new grant Introducing Research Experiences at Community Colleges

NSF TUES Grant #1141339



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