Analysis of bulk heterojunction organic solar cell blends by solid-state NMR relaxometry and sensitive external quantum efficiency – Impact of polymer side chain variation on nanoscale morphology
Journal Contribution - Journal Article
A significant number of organic electronic devices rely on blends of electron-donating and electron-accepting molecules. In bulk heterojunction organic photovoltaics, the nanoscopic phase behavior of the two individual components within the photoactive layer has a major impact on the charge separation and charge transport properties. For polymer:fullerene solar cells, it has been hypothesized that an increased accessibility of the electron-deficient monomer unit in push-pull type low bandgap polymers allows for fullerene ‘docking’. The close proximity of electron donor and acceptor molecules enables more efficient charge transfer, which is beneficial for the device efficiency. With this in mind, we synthesized a series of PBDTTPD [poly(benzodithiophene-thienopyrroledione)] low bandgap copolymers with varying side chains. Solar cells were fabricated for all polymers and the device characteristics were compared. The combination of proton wideline solid-state NMR (ssNMR) relaxometry and sensitive external quantum efficiency (sEQE) measurements was shown to provide essential information on donor-acceptor interactions and phase separation in bulk heterojunction organic photovoltaics. The reduced charge transfer state absorption and the observed phase separation of crystalline PC 71BM domains for the polymers containing the most accessible methyl-TPD unit indicate a diminished contact between donor and acceptor, leading to a loss in performance.