This paper describes the fabrication of transparent electrodes based on grids of copper microwires using a non-photolithographic process. The process--"abrasion lithography"--takes two forms. In the first implementation (Method I), a water-soluble commodity polymer film is abraded with a sharp tool, coated with a conductive film, and developed by immersion in water. Water dissolves the polymer film and lifts off the conductive film in the unabraded areas. In the second implementation (Method II), the substrate is abraded directly by scratching with a sharp tool (i.e., no polymer film necessary). The abraded regions of the substrate are recessed and roughened. Following deposition of a conductive film, the lower profile and roughened topography in the abraded regions prevents mechanical exfoliation of the conductive film using adhesive tape, and thus the conductive film remains only where the substrate is scratched. As an application, conductive grids exhibit average sheet resistances of 17 Ω sq(-1) and transparencies of 86% are fabricated and used as the anode in organic photovoltaic cells in concert with the conductive polymer, poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene):poly(styrenesulfonate) (PEDOT:PSS). Compared to devices in which PEDOT:PSS alone serves as an anode, devices comprising grids of copper/nickel microwires and PEDOT:PSS exhibit lowered series resistance, which manifests in greater fill factor and power conversion efficiency. This simple method of forming micropatterns could find use in applications where cost and environmental impact should be minimized, especially as a potential replacement for the transparent electrode indium tin oxide (ITO) in thin-film electronics over large areas (i.e., solar cells) or as a method of rapid prototyping for laboratory-scale devices.
Printz, A. D., Chan, E., Liong, C., Martinez, R. S., & Lipomi, D. J. (2013). Photoresist-free patterning by mechanical abrasion of water-soluble lift-off resists and bare substrates: Toward green fabrication of transparent electrodes. PLoS ONE, 8(12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0083939