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Nongeminate Recombination in Planar and Bulk Heterojunction Organic Solar Cells



Nongeminate recombination in organic solar cells based on copper phthalocyanine (CuPc) and C60 is investigated. Two device architectures, the planar heterojunction (PHJ) and the bulk heterojunction (BHJ), are directly compared in view of differences in charge carrier decay dynamics. A combination of transient photovoltage (TPV) experiments, yielding the small perturbation charge carrier lifetime, and charge extraction measurements, providing the charge carrier density is applied. In organic solar cells, charge photogeneration and recombination primarily occur at the donor–acceptor heterointerface. Whereas the BHJ can often be approximated by an effective medium due to rather small scale phase separation, the PHJ has a well defined two-dimensional heterointerface. In order to study nongeminate recombination dynamics in PHJ devices the charge accumulation at this interface is most relavent. As only the spatially averaged carrier concentration can be determined from extraction techniques, the charge carrier density at the interface nint is derived from the open circuit voltage. Comparing the experimental results with macroscopic device simulation, the differences of recombination and charge carrier densities in CuPc:C60 PHJ and BHJ devices are discussed with respect to the device performance. The open circuit voltage of BHJ is larger than for PHJ at low light intensities, but at 0.3 sun the situation is reversed: here, the PHJ can finally take advantage of its generally longer charge carrier lifetimes, as the active recombination region is smaller.