Influence of Aggregation on the Performance of All-Polymer Solar Cells Containing Low-Bandgap Naphthalenediimide Copolymers



The authors present efficient all-polymer solar cells comprising two different low-bandgap naphthalenediimide (NDI)-based copolymers as acceptors and regioregular P3HT as the donor. It is shown that these naphthalene copolymers have a strong tendency to preaggregate in specific organic solvents, and that preaggregation can be completely suppressed when using suitable solvents with large and highly polarizable aromatic cores. Organic solar cells prepared from such nonaggregated polymer solutions show dramatically increased power conversion efficiencies of up to 1.4%, which is mainly due to a large increase of the short circuit current. In addition, optimized solar cells show remarkable high fill factors of up to 70%. The analysis of the blend absorbance spectra reveals a surprising anticorrelation between the degree of polymer aggregation in the solid P3HT:NDI copolymer blends and their photovoltaic performance. Scanning near-field optical microscopy (SNOM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM) measurements reveal important information on the blend morphology. It is shown that films with high degree of aggregation and low photocurrents exhibit large-scale phase-separation into rather pure donor and acceptor domains. It is proposed that, by suppressing the aggregation of NDI copolymers at the early stage of film formation, the intermixing of the donor and acceptor component is improved, thereby allowing efficient harvesting of photogenerated excitons at the donor–acceptor heterojunction.