PerspectiveApplied Physics

Solution-Processible Electrodes

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Science  20 Apr 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6079, pp. 302-303
DOI: 10.1126/science.1220829

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Electronics based on thin-film organic materials offer the promise of low-cost flexible solar cells, displays, and light sources that have the potential to be manufactured on large-area plastic substrates via roll-to-roll printing techniques (1). These exciting applications are made possible by the relative ease of processing of organic compounds relative to traditional inorganic semiconductors such as silicon. Unfortunately, fabricating these organic-based devices is still prohibitively expensive because they require several costly vacuum-processing steps to manufacture. One of the key barriers to eliminating these steps, in order to realize a low-cost, all solution-processed device, is finding a suitable low–work function electrode material to replace the reactive metals that are typically used, such as calcium, magnesium, or aluminum. On page 327 of this issue, Zhou et al. (2) report on a general method of engineering low–work function electrode surfaces by means of polymeric surface modifiers containing simple aliphatic amine functional groups. Their method is applicable to a wide range of different electrode materials and can also be used in most state-of-the-art high-efficiency organic electronic devices, including organic solar cells, organic thin-film transistors, and organic light-emitting diodes.