Electrochromism and Solution-Processed Polymer Electrochromic Devices
There are still technique hurdles that needed to be overcome in the commercialization of electrochromic devices (ECDs) for energy-saving smart windows. Among them, the long-term stability of ECDs and the high fabrication cost are the critical issues. The pricey ECDs can only be paid off through saving the energy for years, and their price will be dramatically lower if they can be solution-processed. Here, we studied the ions behaviors in the open-circuit state of electrochromic conjugated polymers (ECPs) which is important to the stability of ECDs during the operation. Moreover, we investigated the solution-processable ion storage layers and paired them with p-type ECPs and demonstrated the possibility of using them in the highly efficient roll-to-roll fabrication of ECD.
The crosslinkable non-color changing nitroxy radical-based polymer was investigated as the ion storage layer. With the applied of crosslinking strategy, the dissolution problems of radical polymers-based counter electrode in the electrolyte was suppressed, resulting in the enhancement of both performance and cycling stability of ECDs. Although p-type ion storage materials are widely studied as the ion storage layers for ECPs, they need to go through complicated pretreatment processes, including pre-oxidation, washing, and drying, before they can be paired with ECPs in an ECD. This complicated process greatly increases the fabrication cost.
In our last work, we applied the UV ozone (UVO) pretreatment to the solution-processed n-type niobium oxide and evaluated its potentials to be used as the ion storage layer for p-type ECPs. The UVO pretreatment generates strong oxidants like ozone or atomic oxygen which induce the photolysis of organic residues of ligands and organic solvent trapped in the solution-processed metal oxide layer led to the formation of free radical species. These highly reactive species promoted the formation of the amorphous metal−oxygen network. Following by low-temperature annealing (< 150 oC), the ion-storage properties of niobium oxide is comparable with the high temperature annealed (300 oC) niobium oxide. The method is successfully applied to fabricate niobium oxide on a flexible conductive substrate and demonstrate the capability to pair with p-type ECPs and fabricate high-performance ECDs without the need of any pretreatments. The low-temperature solution processing of both layers will significantly reduce the fabrication cost of ECDs.