Correlation of nanomorphology with structural and spectroscopic studies in organic solar cells

Urvashi Bothra, Nakul Jain, Amelia C.Y. Liu, Abhinav Kala, Wenchao Huang, Xuechen Jiao, Eliot Gann, Venu Gopal Achanta, Christopher R. Mcneill, Dinesh Kabra

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The nanomorphology of bulk heterojunction (BHJ) blends based on poly[[4,8-bis[(2-ethylhexyl)oxy]benzo[1,2-b:4,5-b′]dithiophene-2,6-diyl][3-fluoro-2-[(2-ethylhexyl)carbonyl]thieno[3,4-b]thiophenediyl]] (PTB7) blended with [6,6]-phenyl-C71-butyric acid methyl ester (PC71BM) is systematically varied by using the volume fraction of the solvent additive 1,8-diiodooctane (DIO) from 0 to 20 vol % in chlorobenzene to prepare organic solar cells (OSCs). Blends prepared without DIO forms large phase-separated domains of PC71BM which are suppressed on addition of 3 vol % DIO, resulting in improved nanoscale features. Addition of 20 vol % DIO results in a finer interconnected morphology along with increased roughness due to polymer aggregation, which contrasts with previous reports. With increase in addition of DIO the photoluminescence (PL) from the blend is reduced; however, a relative increase in PL from 750 nm onward is observed for blends with 20 vol % DIO. As quenching of the blend PL is related to the donor/acceptor interface, structural characterizations in real-space (microscopy) and k-space (scattering) are performed to unravel the nanomorphology and correlate it with photophysical and charge transport processes. Electron-transport length scales measured by scanning photocurrent microscopy are found to increase with the addition of up to 3 vol % DIO associated with the breakup of the large PC71BM agglomerates, while the hole-transport length is found to increase on adding DIO up to 20 vol % due to aggregation of polymer chains. Hence, this work represents a unique set of results systematically examining the effect of nanomorphology on structural and solar cells properties of BHJ blends, which can have a direct implication on better understanding of the emerging high-efficiency OSC systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11080-11089
Number of pages10
JournalACS Applied Nano Materials
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2020


  • domain size
  • morphology
  • optical beam spread
  • organic solar cells
  • spectroscopy

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