A solar cell includes a low work function cathode, an active layer of an organic-inorganic nanoparticle composite, a ZnO nanoparticle layer situated between and physically contacting the cathode and active layers; and a transparent high work function anode that is a bilayer electrode. The inclusion of the ZnO nanoparticle layer results in a solar cell displaying a conversion efficiency increase and reduces the device degradation rate. Embodiments of the invention are directed to novel ZnO nanoparticles that are advantageous for use as the ZnO nanoparticle layers of the novel solar cells and a method to prepare the ZnO nanoparticles.
 This invention was made with government support under grant numbers W911NF-07-1-0545 and DE-FG36-08G018020 awarded by the Army Research Office and the Department of Energy respectively. The government has certain rights to this invention.