Enhancement of the thermoelectric properties of PEDOT:PSS thin films by post-treatment

Jinji Luo, Detlef Billep, Thomas Waechtler, Thomas Otto, Marius Toader, Ovidiu Gordan, Evgeniya Sheremet, Joerg Martin, Michael Hietschold, Dietrich R.T. Zahn, Thomas Gessner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

210 Citations (Scopus)


In this work, the thermoelectric (TE) properties of poly(3,4- ethylenedioxylthiophene):poly(styrene sulfonate) (PEDOT:PSS) thin films at room temperature are studied. Different methods have been applied for tuning the TE properties: 1st addition of polar solvent, dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), into the PEDOT:PSS solution; 2nd post-treatment of thin films with a mixture of DMSO and ionic liquid, 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium tetrafluoroborate (EMIMBF4). It is verified that DMSO post-treatment is more efficient than DMSO addition in improving the electrical conductivity with a trivial change in the Seebeck coefficient. The power factor is increased up to 30.1 μW mK-2 for the film with DMSO post-treatment, while the optimized power factor by DMSO addition is 18.2 μW mK-2. It is shown that both DMSO addition and post-treatment induce morphological changes: an interconnected network of elongated PEDOT grains is generated, leading to higher electrical conductivity. In contrast, for those films post-treated in the presence of EMIMBF4, an interconnected network of short and circular PEDOT grains with increased polaron density is created, resulting in the improvement in the Seebeck coefficient and a concomitant compromise in the electrical conductivity. An optimized power factor of 38.46 μW mK -2 is achieved at 50 vol% of EMIMBF4, which is the highest reported so far for PEDOT:PSS thin films to our knowledge. Assuming a thermal conductivity of 0.17 W mK-1, the corresponding ZT is 0.068 at 300 K. These results demonstrate that post-treatment is a promising approach to enhance the TE properties of PEDOT:PSS thin films. Furthermore, ionic liquid, EMIMBF4, shows the potential for tuning the TE properties of PEDOT:PSS thin films via a more environmentally benign process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7576-7583
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Materials Chemistry A
Issue number26
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Materials Science(all)

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