Construction of ordered electron acceptors is a feasible way to solve the issue of phase separation in polymer solar cells by using vertically-aligned ZnO nanorod arrays (NRAs). However, the inert charge transfer between conducting polymer and ZnO limits the performance enhancement of this type of hybrid solar cells. In this work, a fullerene derivative named C60 pyrrolidine tris-acid is used to modify the interface of ZnO/poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT). Results indicate that the C60 modification passivates the surface defects of ZnO and improves its intrinsic fluorescence. The quenching efficiency of P3HT photoluminescence is enhanced upon C60 functionalization, suggesting a more efficient charge transfer occurs across the modified P3HT/ZnO interface. Furthermore, the fullerene modified hybrid solar cell based on P3HT/ZnO NRAs displays substantially-enhanced performance as compared to the unmodified one and the devices with other modifiers, which is contributed to retarded recombination and enhanced exciton separation as evidenced by electrochemical impedance spectra. Therefore, fullerene passivation is a promising method to ameliorate the connection between conjugated polymers and metal oxides, and is applicable in diverse areas, such as solar cells, transistors, and light-emitting dioxides.
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