Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization Mass Spectrometric Analysis of Poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) in Solid-State Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells: Comparison of In Situ Photoelectrochemical Polymerization in Aqueous Micellar and Organic Media
Solid-state dye-sensitized solar cells (sDSCs) are devoid of such issues as electrolyte evaporation or leakage and electrode corrosion, which are typical for traditional liquid electrolyte-based DSCs. Poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT) is one of the most popular and efficient p-type conducting polymers that are used in sDSCs as a solid-state hole-transporting material. The most convenient way to deposit this insoluble polymer into the dye-sensitized mesoporous working electrode is in situ photoelectrochemical polymerization. Apparently, the structure and the physicochemical properties of the generated conducting polymer, which determine the photovoltaic performance of the corresponding solar cell, can be significantly affected by the preparation conditions. Therefore, a simple and fast analytical method that can reveal information on polymer chain length, possible chemical modifications, and impurities is strongly required for the rapid development of efficient solar energy-converting devices. In this contribution, we applied matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry (MALDI MS) for the analysis of PEDOT directly on sDSCs. It was found that the PEDOT generated in aqueous micellar medium possesses relatively shorter polymeric chains than the PEDOT deposited from an organic medium. Furthermore, the micellar electrolyte promotes a transformation of one of the thiophene terminal units to thiophenone. The introduction of a carbonyl group into the PEDOT molecule impedes the growth of the polymer chain and reduces the conductivity of the final polymer film. Both the simplicity of sample preparation (only application of the organic matrix onto the solar cell is needed) and the rapidity of analysis hold the promise of making MALDI MS an essential tool for the physicochemical characterization of conducting polymer-based sDSCs.