Flexible and transparent electrodes imprinted from Au nanowires: stability and ageing

We study the stability of flexible transparent electrodes (FTEs) that were self-assembled from ultra-thin gold nanowires (AuNW) by direct nanoimprinting of inks with different particle concentrations (1 to 10 mg mL−1). The resulting lines were less than 3 μm wide and contained bundles of AuNW with oleylamine (OAm) ligand shells. Small-angle X-ray scattering confirmed a concentration-independent bundle structure. Plasma sintering converted the wire assemblies into lines with a thin metal shell that contributes most to electrical conductivity and covers a hybrid core. We studied the relative change in sheet resistance and the morphology of the FTEs with time. The sheet resistance increased at all concentrations, but at different rates. The metal shell aged by de-wetting and pore formation. The hybrid core de-mixed and densified, which led to a partial collapse of the shell. Residual organics migrated through the shell via its pores. Lines formed at low concentration (cAu = 2 to 3 mg mL−1) contained less residual organics and aged slower than those formed at high cAu ≥ 5 mg mL−1. We passivated the conductive shell with thin, adsorbed layers of PEDOT:PSS and found that it decelerated degradation by slowing surface diffusion and hindering further rupture of the shell. Thick capping layers prevented degradation entirely and stopped pore formation.