The influences of morphology and thickness of zinc oxide (ZnO) buffer layers on the performance of inverted polymer solar cells are investigated. ZnO buffer layers with different morphology and thickness varying from several nanometers to ≈55 nm are fabricated by adjusting the concentration of the precursor sol. The ZnO buffer layers with nearly same surface quality but with thickness varying from ≈7 to ≈65 nm are also fabricated by spinning coating for comparison. The photovoltaic performance is found to be strongly dependent on ZnO surface quality and less dependent on the thickness. The use of dense and homogenous ZnO buffer layers enhances the fill factor and short-circuit current of inverted solar cell without sacrificing the open-circuit voltage of device due to an improvement in the contact between the ZnO buffer layer and the photoactive layer. Inverted devices with a dense and homogenous ZnO buffer layer derived from 0.1 M sol exhibit an overall conversion efficiency of 3.3% which is a 32% increase compared to devices with a rough ZnO buffer layer made from 1 M sol, which exhibited a power conversion efficiency of 2.5%. The results indicate that the efficiency of inverted polymer solar cells can be significantly influenced by the morphology of the buffer layer.
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