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Hu S.,University of Tennessee at Knoxville | Hu S.,Sustainable Energy Education and Research Center | Dyck O.,Sustainable Energy Education and Research Center | Dyck O.,University of Tennessee at Knoxville | And 12 more authors.
RSC Advances | Year: 2014

This study examines the development of structure and performance in an organic photovoltaic (OPV) thin film comprised of poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) and [6,6]-phenyl C61-butyric acid methyl ester (PCBM). Specifically, the influence of P3HT and PCBM solubility in the solvents utilized for vapor annealing on the morphological properties and OPV performance of the resultant active layer is examined. The evolution of P3HT crystallinity as well as the growth of PCBM aggregates in the solvent annealed thin films were examined by Grazing Incidence Wide Angle X-ray Scattering (GIWAXS), Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), and Energy Filtered Transmission Electron Microscopy (EFTEM). It is shown that P3HT crystallinity increases initially, then decreases with time for solvents that have a finite P3HT solubility. Alternatively, PCBM aggregates grow continuously with SVA, but are modulated by the PCBM solubility. High P3HT crystallinity and moderate PCBM phase separation correlates to improved power conversion efficiency (PCE). Hence, the relative P3HT and PCBM solubility plays a crucial role in choosing the best SVA time of different annealing solvents. Specifically, for samples annealed using solvents that prefer P3HT, PCE benefits from further SVA after the peak P3HT crystallinity time, which is ascribed to additional PCBM phase separation. On the other hand, solvents that prefer PCBM induce excess PCBM phase separation at longer SVA times, which limits exciton dissociation and PCE. EFTEM cross section images indicate that PCBM is distributed toward the bottom of the film, whereas SVA in a solvent with high PCBM solubility may induce PCBM to segregate towards the air surface, which benefits charge transport processes by preventing electron-hole recombination. This journal is © the Partner Organisations 2014.

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