Main content area

Nanoscale structural and electronic evolution for increased efficiency in polymer solar cells monitored by electric scanning probe microscopy

Li, Denghua, Yan, Han, Li, Chao, Yang, Yanlian, Wei, Zhixiang, Wang, Chen
Chinese science bulletin 2014 v.59 no.4 pp. 360-368
annealing, crystallization, electrical properties, photovoltaic cells, plastics, polymers, scanning probe microscopy, spectroscopy, surface roughness, temperature
Control of blend morphology at multi-scale is critical for optimizing the power conversion efficiency (PCE) of plastic solar cells. To better understand the physics of photoactive layer in the organic photovoltaic devices, it is necessary to gain understanding of morphology and the corresponding electronic property. Herein we report the correlation between nanoscale structural, electric properties of bulk heterojunction (BHJ) solar cells and the annealing-induced PCE change. We demonstrate that the PCE of BHJ solar cells are dramatically improved (from 1.3 % to 4.6 %) by thermal annealing, which results from P3HT crystalline stacking and the PCBM aggregation for interpenetrated network. The similar trend for annealing-induced photovoltage and PCE evolution present as an initial increase followed by a decrease with the annealing time and temperature. The surface roughness increase slowly and then abruptly after the same inflection points observed for photovoltage and PCE. The phase images in electric force microscopy indicate the optimized P3HT and PCBM crystallization for interpenetrating network formation considering the spectroscopic results as well. From the correlation between surface photovoltage, blend morphology, and PCE, we propose a model to illustrate the film structure and its evolution under different annealing conditions. This work would benefit the better design and optimization of the morphology and local electric properties of solar cell active layers for improved PCE.