A fundamental understanding of the relationship between the bulk morphology and device performance is required for the further development of bulk heterojunction organic solar cells. Here, non-optimized (chloroform cast) and nearly optimized (solvent-annealed o-dichlorobenzene cast) P3HT:PCBM blend films treated over a range of annealing temperatures are studied via optical and photovoltaic device measurements. Parameters related to the P3HT aggregate morphology in the blend are obtained through a recently established analytical model developed by F. C. Spano for the absorption of weakly interacting H-aggregates. Thermally induced changes are related to the glass transition range of the blend. In the chloroform prepared devices, the improvement in device efficiency upon annealing within the glass transition range can be attributed to the growth of P3HT aggregates, an overall increase in the percentage of chain crystallinity, and a concurrent increase in the hole mobilities. Films treated above the glass transition range show an increase in efficiency and fill factor not only associated with the change in chain crystallinity, but also with a decrease in the energetic disorder. On the other hand, the properties of the P3HT phase in the solvent-annealed o-dichlorobenzene cast blends are almost indistinguishable from those of the corresponding pristine P3HT layer and are only weakly affected by thermal annealing. Apparently, slow drying of the blend allows the P3HT chains to crystallize into large domains with low degrees of intra- and interchain disorder. This morphology appears to be most favorable for the efficient generation and extraction of charges.
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