Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Polymers and Coatings


Chemistry & Biochemistry


Shanju Zhang, PhD


Organic photovoltaics (OPVs) have received a great deal of focus in recent years as a possible alternative to expensive silicon based solar technology. Current challenges for organic photovoltaics are centered around improving their lifetimes and increasing their power conversion efficiencies. One approach to improving the lifetime of such devices has been the inclusion of inorganic metal oxide layers, but interaction between the metal oxides and common conjugated polymers is not favorable. Here we present two methods by which the interactions between polythiophenes and nanostructured ZnO can be made to be more favorable. Using the first method, direct side on attachment of polythiophene to ZnO nanowires via chemical grafting, we demonstrate chemical linkage between the polymer and ZnO phases. The attachment was confirmed to affect the morphological properties of the polymer layer as well, inducing highly ordered regions of the polymer at the ZnO surface via chemical attachment and physical adsorption. Using the second method to improve polythiophene ZnO interactions, we have functionalized ZnO nanowires with organic molecules that favorably interact with conjugated polymer and organic solvents. Photovoltaic devices were made using a blended active layer of functionalized ZnO nanowires and P3HT. Electrical analysis of the resultant devices concluded that the devices were functional photovoltaic cells and isolated the dominant loss mechanisms for further device improvement.