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Effect Of Electrosynthesis Potential On Nucleation, Growth, Adhesion, And Electronic Properties Of Polypyrrole Thin Films On Fluorine-Doped Tin Oxide (FTO)

Jhon Puerres, Pablo Ortiz, María T. Cortés

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Polypyrrole (PPy) is one of the most attractive conducting polymers for thin film applications due to its good electrical conductivity, stability, optical properties, and biocompatibility. Among the technologies in which PPy has gained prominence are optoelectronics and solar energy conversion, where transparent electrodes such as fluorine-doped tin oxide (FTO) or indium tin oxide (ITO) are frequently used. However, FTO substrates have the notable advantage that their components are widely available in nature, unlike those of ITO. Recognizing the importance that the FTO/polypyrrole system has gained in various applications, here, we studied for the first time the nucleation and growth mechanism of electro-synthesized PPy on FTO. Additionally, the effect of the synthesis potential (0.9, 1.0, 1.1, and 1.2 V vs. Ag/AgCl) on the homogeneity, adhesion, conductivity, and HOMO energy levels of PPy films was determined. From current–time transients and scanning electron microscopy, it was found that films synthesized at 0.9 and 1.0 V exhibit 3D growth with progressive nucleation (as well as lower homogeneity and higher adhesion to FTO). In contrast, films synthesized at 1.1 and 1.2 V follow 2D growth with instantaneous nucleation. It was also evident that increasing the polymerization potential leads to polymers with lower conductivity and more negative HOMO levels (versus vacuum). These findings are relevant to encourage the use of electro-synthesized PPy in thin film applications that require a high control of material properties.