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Non-Equilibrium Charge Motion in Organic Solar Cells  PDF

Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary
Armantas Melianas
Publication Year
Link to Source (DOI)
<p>Organic photovoltaic (OPV) devices based on semiconducting polymers and small molecules allow for a low cost alternative to inorganic solar cells. Recent developments show power conversion efficiencies as high as 10-12%, highlighting the potential of this technology. Nevertheless, further improvements are necessary to achieve commercialization.</p><p>To a large extent the performance of these devices is dictated by their ability to extract the photo-generated charge, which is related to the charge carrier mobility. Various time-resolved and steady-state techniques are available to probe the charge carrier mobility in OPVs but often lead to different mobility values for one and the same system. Despite such conflicting observations it is generally assumed that charge transport in OPV devices can be described by well-defined charge carrier mobilities, typically obtained using a single steady-state technique. This thesis shows that the relevance of such well-defined mobilities for the charge separation and extraction processes is very limited.</p><p>Although different transient techniques probe different time scales after photogeneration, they are mutually consistent as they probe the same physical mechanism governing charge motion – gradual thermalization of the photo-generated carriers in the disorder broadened density of states (DOS). The photo-generated carriers gradually lose their excess energy during transport to the extracting electrodes, but not immediately. Typically not all excess energy is dissipated as the photo-generated carriers tend to be extracted from the OPV device before reaching quasi-equilibrium.</p><p>Carrier motion is governed by thermalization, leading to a time-dependent carrier mobility that is significantly higher than the steady-state mobility. This picture is confirmed by several transient techniques: Time-resolved Terahertz Spectroscopy (TRTS), Time-resolved Microwave Conductance (TRMC) combined with Transient Absorption (TA), electrical extraction of photo-induced charges (photo-CELIV). The connection between transient and steady-state mobility measurements (space-charge limited conductivity, SCLC) is described. Unification of transient opto-electric techniques to probe charge motion in OPVs is presented.</p><p>Using transient experiments the distribution of extraction times of photo-generated charges in an operating OPV device has been determined and found to be strongly dispersive, spanning several decades in time. In view of the strong dispersion in extraction times the relevance of even a well-defined time-dependent mean mobility is limited.</p><p>In OPVs a continuous ‘percolating’ donor network is often considered necessary for efficient hole extraction, whereas if the network is discontinuous, hole transport is thought to deteriorate significantly, limiting device performance. Here, it is shown that even highly diluted donor sites (5.7-10 %) in a buckminsterfullerene (C<sub>60</sub>) matrix enable reasonably efficient hole transport. Using transient measurements it is demonstrated that hole transport between isolated donor sites can occur by long-range hole tunneling (over distances of ~4 nm) through several C<sub>60</sub> molecules – even a discontinuous donor network enables hole transport</p>