Higher Mobility and Carrier Lifetimes in Solution-Processable Small-Molecule Ternary Solar Cells with 11% Efficiency

Solution-processed small molecule (SM) solar cells have the prospect to outperform their polymer-fullerene counterparts. Considering that both SM donors/acceptors absorb in visible spectral range, higher expected photocurrents should in principle translate into higher power conversion efficiencies (PCEs). However, limited bulk-heterojunction (BHJ) charge carrier mobility (<10 cm V s) and carrier lifetimes (<1 µs) often impose active layer thickness constraints on BHJ devices (≈100 nm), limiting external quantum efficiencies (EQEs) and photocurrent, and making large-scale processing techniques particularly challenging. In this report, it is shown that ternary BHJs composed of the SM donor DR3TBDTT (DR3), the SM acceptor ICC6 and the fullerene acceptor PCBM can be used to achieve SM-based ternary BHJ solar cells with active layer thicknesses >200 nm and PCEs nearing 11%. The examinations show that these remarkable figures are the result of i) significantly improved electron mobility (8.2 × 10 cm V s), ii) longer carrier lifetimes (2.4 µs), and iii) reduced geminate recombination within BHJ active layers to which PCBM has been added as ternary component. Optically thick (up to ≈500 nm) devices are shown to maintain PCEs >8%, and optimized DR3:ICC6:PCBM solar cells demonstrate long-term shelf stability (dark) for >1000 h, in 55% humidity air environment.

Liang R-Z, Zhang Y, Savikhin V, Babics M, Kan Z, et al. (2018) Higher Mobility and Carrier Lifetimes in Solution-Processable Small-Molecule Ternary Solar Cells with 11% Efficiency. Advanced Energy Materials 9: 1802836. Available: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/aenm.201802836.

This publication is based upon work supported by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) Office of Sponsored Research (OSR) under Award No. CRG_R2_13_BEAU_KAUST_1. The authors acknowledge concurrent support under Baseline Research Funding from KAUST. The authors thank KAUST ACL for technical support in the mass spectrometry analyses. Use of the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences under Contract No. DE-AC02-76SF00515. V.S. was supported by the Department of Defense (DoD) through the National Defense Science & Engineering Graduate Fellowship (NDSEG) Program.


Advanced Energy Materials


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