The effects of corrosion, fatigue and fatigue corrosion on ITO/Ag/ITO-coated polymer substrates used in solar cell applications

Mohammed, Dilveen W; Sierros, Konstantinos A; Bowen, James and Kukureka, Stephen N (2015). The effects of corrosion, fatigue and fatigue corrosion on ITO/Ag/ITO-coated polymer substrates used in solar cell applications. In: 2nd Asian-European Symposium on Organic Optoelectronics, 27-29 Oct 2015, Edinburgh, UK.


ITO film with low resistivity and high transmittance has certain drawbacks, such as the high process temperature of more than 300°C. Therefore, ITO/Ag/ITO multilayer structures have been widely used as alternative transparent electrodes to single-layer ITO for optoelectronic applications including solar cells, flat-panel displays, and thin film transistors (TFT). The advantages of such transparent conducting oxide (TCO) multilayer films in various display technologies include high electrical conductivity, high visible transparency and the reduction of the indium quantity by the reduction of thin film thickness in TCO/metal/TCO. Previous investigations of electromechanical properties for TCO/Ag/TCO films have been relatively limited. However, the electromechanical and environmental issues involved when the device is stretched, bent, or generally deformed both during manufacturing or in service conditions are important in order to improve and predict reliability. Therefore, a customised cyclic bend-testing machine was used to investigate the effect of fatigue and corrosion fatigue while the effect of corrosion was investigated in isolation using aqueous sodium chloride solution. Changes in electrical resistance were monitored in situ. SEM was used to provide surface characterisation of the mechanically-tested samples. Changes in electrical resistance were observed to be high for specimens subjected to fatigue conditions, higher applied strains and a higher number of cycles. Also, it is shown that exposure to acrylic acid can cause the ITO/Ag/ITO performance to degrade over time. In addition, greater changes in electrical resistance were found at higher concentrations. Furthermore, the combination of stress and corrosion by aqueous sodium chloride solution was found to significantly reduce the conductivity of the ITO/Ag/ITO film.

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