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Time-resolved morphology formation of solution cast polymer: fullerene blends revealed by in-situ photoluminescence spectroscopy
Manuscript (preprint)
Jonas Bergqvist, Armantas Melianas, Olof Andersson, Camilla Lindqvist, Chiara Musumeci, Olle Inganäs
Publication Year
<p>The nanoscale morphology of the photo-active layer in organic solar cells is critical for device efficiency. The photoactive layer is cast from solution and during drying both the polymer and the fullerene self-assemble to form a blend. Here, we introduce in-situ spectroscopic photoluminescence (PL) combined with laser reflectometry to monitor the drying process of an amorphous polymer:fullerene blend. When casting only the pristine components (polymer or PCBM only), the strength of PL emission is proportional to the solid content of the drying solution, and both kinetics reveal a rapid aggregation onset at the final stage of film drying. On the contrary, when casting polymer:fullerene blends, the strength of PL emission is proportional to the wet film thickness and reveals polymer/fullerene charge transfer (CT) already at the earliest stages of film drying, i.e. in dilute solutions. The proposed method allows to detect polymer/fullerene phase separation during film casting – from a reduction in the PL quenching rate as the film dries. Poor solvents lead to phase separation already at early stages of film drying (low solid content), resulting in a coarse final morphology as confirmed by atomic force microscopy (AFM). We therefore anticipate that the proposed method will be an important tool in the future development of processing inks, not only for solution-cast polymer:fullerene solar cells but also for organic heterojunctions in general.</p>