Microstructured transparent conductive oxides (TCOs) have shown great potential as photonic electrodes in photovoltaic (PV) applications, providing both optical and electrical improvements in the solar cells’ performance due to: (1) strong light trapping effects that enhance broadband light absorption in PV material and (2) the reduced sheet resistance of the front illuminated contact. This work developed a method for the fabrication and optimization of wavelength-sized indium zinc oxide (IZO) microstructures, which were soft-patterned on flexible indium tin oxide (ITO)-coated poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) substrates via a simple, low-cost, versatile, and highly scalable colloidal lithography process. Using this method, the ITO-coated PET substrates patterned with IZO micro-meshes provided improved transparent electrodes endowed with strong light interaction effects—namely, a pronounced light scattering performance (diffuse transmittance up to ~50%). In addition, the photonic-structured IZO mesh allowed a higher volume of TCO material in the electrode while maintaining the desired transparency, which led to a sheet resistance reduction (by ~30%), thereby providing further electrical benefits due to the improvement of the contact conductance. The results reported herein pave the way for a new class of photonic transparent electrodes endowed with mechanical flexibility that offer strong potential not only as advanced front contacts for thin-film bendable solar cells but also for a much broader range of optoelectronic applications.
- Colloidal lithography
- Transparent microstructured electrodes