Advanced Functional Materials

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16_06/2006Cover Picture: Tuning the Dimensions of C60-Based Needlelike Crystals in Blended Thin Films (Adv. Funct. Mater. 6/2006)

A new ordered structure of the C60 derivative PCBM is obtained in thin films based on the blend PCBM:P3HT, as detailed by Swinnen, Manca, and co-workers on p. 760. Needlelike crystalline PCBM structures, whose dimensions and spatial distribution ca be tuned by adjusting the blend ratio and annealing conditions, are formed. In typical solar-cell applications of these blended films, these results indicate that during long-term operation under normal conditions (50–70 °C) morphology changes and a decrease in cell performance could occur.

A new ordered structure of the C60 derivative PCBM ([6-6]-phenyl C61-butyric acid methyl ester) is obtained in thin films based on the blend PCBM:regioregular P3HT (poly(3-hexylthiophene)). Rapid formation of needlelike crystalline PCBM structures of a few micrometers up to 100 &mgr;m in size is demonstrated by submitting the blended thin films to an appropriate thermal treatment. These structures can grow out to a 2D network of PCBM needles and, in specific cases, to spectacular PCBM fans. Key parameters to tune the dimensions and spatial distribution of the PCBM needles are blend ratio and annealing conditions. The as-obtained blended films and crystals are probed using atomic force microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, selected area electron diffraction, optical microscopy, and confocal fluorescence microscopy. Based on the analytical results, the growth mechanism of the PCBM structures within the film is described in terms of diffusion of PCBM towards the PCBM crystals, leaving highly crystalline P3HT behind in the surrounding matrix.

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