Organic Photovoltaic Structures as Photo-active Electrodes

Matthew P. Gustafson*, Noel Clark, Bjorn Winther Jensen, Douglas R. Macfarlane

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


This study demonstrated the novel use of a bulk heterojunction (BHJ), as present in modern organic solar cells, as a light-assisted electrocatalyst for water electrolysis reactions. Two separate organic photo-voltaic electrode structures were designed for targeting both the reduction, (ITO-PET/PEDOT:PSS/ P3HT:PCBM)* and oxidation, (ITO-PET/ZnO/P3HT:PCBM)* reactions of water, denoted as OPE-R and OPE-O respectively. The OPE-R electrode supported both the proton reduction reaction (PRR) and oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) achieving photocurrents of -0.04 mAcm-2 (ORR) and -0.03 mAcm -2 (PRR) and a photovoltage of 0.50 V (ORR) and onset photovoltage at -0.59 V (PRR). By comparison, the OPE-O electrode achieved photocurrents of 0.15 mAcm-2 and photovoltages of 0.35 V for the water oxidation reaction (WOR). Both BHJ designs confirmed evidence of photo-enhanced Bulk Heterojunction Electrode (BHE) activity. The stability and sources of electrode degradation were also studied, with the OPE-O electrode proving to be more stable than the OPE-R electrode, most likely due to the PEDOT:PSS layer and PSS migration in the presence of water. *Indium Tin Oxide (ITO), Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), Poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT), Polystyrenesulfonate acid (PSS), Poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT), Phenyl-C 61-Butyric acid Methyl ester (PCBM), Zinc Oxide (ZnO)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-313
Number of pages5
JournalElectrochimica Acta
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Sept 10
Externally publishedYes


  • Heterojunction
  • Photo-enhanced
  • Water electrolysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrochemistry
  • Chemical Engineering(all)


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