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Photo-generated carriers lose energy during extraction from polymer-fullerene solar cells
Linköping University, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Biomolecular and Organic Electronics. Linköping University, Faculty of Science & Engineering.
Max Planck Institute Polymer Research, Germany.
Delft University of Technology, Netherlands.
Max Planck Institute Polymer Research, Germany; King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia.
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2015 (English)In: Nature Communications, ISSN 2041-1723, E-ISSN 2041-1723, Vol. 6, no 8778Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Resource type
Text
Abstract [en]

In photovoltaic devices, the photo-generated charge carriers are typically assumed to be in thermal equilibrium with the lattice. In conventional materials, this assumption is experimentally justified as carrier thermalization completes before any significant carrier transport has occurred. Here, we demonstrate by unifying time-resolved optical and electrical experiments and Monte Carlo simulations over an exceptionally wide dynamic range that in the case of organic photovoltaic devices, this assumption is invalid. As the photo-generated carriers are transported to the electrodes, a substantial amount of their energy is lost by continuous thermalization in the disorder broadened density of states. Since thermalization occurs downward in energy, carrier motion is boosted by this process, leading to a time-dependent carrier mobility as confirmed by direct experiments. We identify the time and distance scales relevant for carrier extraction and show that the photo-generated carriers are extracted from the operating device before reaching thermal equilibrium.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Nature Publishing Group, 2015. Vol. 6, no 8778
National Category
Biological Sciences Physical Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-123824DOI: 10.1038/ncomms9778ISI: 000366294700004PubMedID: 26537357OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-123824DiVA: diva2:892880
Note

Funding Agencies|Swedish Science Council and Energimyndigheten; Knut and Alice Wallenberg foundation; Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft [SPP1355]

Available from: 2016-01-11 Created: 2016-01-11 Last updated: 2017-12-01
In thesis
1. Non-Equilibrium Charge Motion in Organic Solar Cells
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Non-Equilibrium Charge Motion in Organic Solar Cells
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 (C60) 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 C60 molecules – even a discontinuous donor network enables hole transport

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2017. 83 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Dissertations, ISSN 0345-7524 ; 1836
National Category
Physical Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-136479 (URN)10.3384/diss.diva-136479 (DOI)9789176855638 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-05-19, Planck, Fysikhuset, Campus Valla, Linköping, 10:15 (English)
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Available from: 2017-04-18 Created: 2017-04-13 Last updated: 2017-08-09Bibliographically approved

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Melianas, ArmantasInganäs, OlleKemerink, Martijn

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