Morphology and Efficiency: The Case of Polymer/ZnO Solar Cells



The performance of polymer solar cells critically depends on the morphology of the interface between the donor- and acceptor materials that are used to create and transport charge carriers. Solar cells based on poly(3-hexylthiophene) and ZnO were fully characterized in terms of their efficiency and three-dimensional (3D) morphology on the nanoscale. Here, we establish a quantitative link between efficiency and morphology by using the experimental 3D morphology as direct input for a 3D optoelectronic device model. This model includes the effects of exciton diffusion and quenching; space-charge; recombination, generation, drift and diffusion of charge carriers; and the injection/extraction of carriers at the contacts. The observed trend in internal quantum efficiency as a function of layer thickness is reproduced with a single set of parameters. Several morphological aspects that determine the internal quantum efficiency are discussed and compared to other organic solar cells. This first direct use of morphological data in an optoelectronic device model highlights the importance of morphology in solar cells.