Impact of the TCO Microstructure on the Electronic Properties of Carbazole-Based Self-Assembled Monolayers

Suzana Kralj*, Pia Dally, Pantelis Bampoulis, Badri Vishal, Stefaan De Wolf, Monica Morales-Masis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Carbazole-based self-assembled monolayers (PACz-SAMs), anchored via their phosphonic acid group on a transparent conductive oxide (TCO), have demonstrated excellent performance as hole-selective layers in perovskite/silicon tandem solar cells. Yet, whereas different PACz-SAMs have been explored, the role of the TCO, and specifically its microstructure, on the hole transport properties of the TCO/PACz-SAMs stack has been largely overlooked. Here, we demonstrate that the TCO microstructure directly impacts the work function (WF) shift after SAM anchoring and is responsible for WF variations at the micro/nanoscale. Specifically, we studied Sn-doped In2O3 (ITO) substrates with amorphous and polycrystalline (featuring either nanoscale- or microscale-sized grains) microstructures before and after 2PACz-SAMs and NiOx/2PACz-SAMs anchoring. With this, we established a direct correlation between the ITO crystal grain orientation and 2PACz-SAMs local potential distribution, i.e., the WF. Importantly, these variations vanish for amorphous oxides (either in the form of amorphous ITO or when adding an amorphous NiOx buffer layer), where a homogeneous surface potential distribution is found. These findings highlight the importance of TCO microstructure tuning, to enable both high mobility and broadband transparent electrodes while ensuring uniform WF distribution upon application of hole transport SAMs, both critical for enhanced device performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)366-374
Number of pages9
JournalACS Materials Letters
Issue number2
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Published by American Chemical Society

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • General Materials Science


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