Solution-Processed Molecular Organic Solar cell: Relationship between Morphology and Device Performance
KAUST DepartmentPhysical Sciences and Engineering (PSE) Division
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AbstractIn the last decade, organic photovoltaics (OPV) have gained considerable attention with a rapid improvement of power conversion efficiency (PCE) from 5% to more than 13%. At the origin of the gradual efficiency improvements are (i) the rationalization of material design and (ii) systematic optimization of film processing condition. OPV can have a key role in markets such as building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV). The main advantages of organic solar cells are semitransparency, low weight, good performance at low light intensity, flexibility and potential low-cost module manufacture through solution processed-based technologies. In solution processed OPV, the active layer that converts photons into electric charges is a composite of two organic compounds, a donor (D) and an acceptor (A) where the best morphology is achieved via the so-called bulk heterojunction (BHJ): an interpenetrating phase-separated D-A network. Historically, research has been focused on polymer donors and guidelines about morphology and film processing have been established. However recent studies have shown that small-molecule (SM) donors can rival their polymer counterparts in performance. The advantages of SM are a defined molecular weight, the ease of purification and a good batch-to-batch reproducibility. Using this class of material the existing guidelines have to be adjusted and refined. In this dissertation, using new SM synthesized in our laboratory, solution-processed organic solar cells are fabricated in which the morphology of the active layer is controlled by thermal annealing, the use of additive or solvent vapor annealing. In-depth analyses of the morphology are correlated to charge generation, recombination and extraction inferred from device physics. In the first part of the dissertation, using a small amount of 1,8-Diiodooctane additive that acts as a plasticizer, it is found that the D-A domains do not necessarily need to be pure and that mixed domains can also result in high performing devices. In the second part of the dissertation, the effect of solvent vapor annealing, particularly effective for SM:PCBM BHJ, is discussed where excellent control of the morphology is achieved. In the last part of the dissertation, efficient organic solar cells with open circuit voltage of >1.05V are made via fine-tuning of the morphology.