Controlling the morphology and efficiency of hybrid ZnO: Polythiophene solar cells via side chain functionalization

S.D. Oosterhout, L.J.A. Koster, S.S. Bavel, van, J. Loos, O. Stenzel, R. Thiedmann, V. Schmidt, B.J. Campo, T.J. Cleij, L. Lutzen, D.J.M. Vanderzande, M.M. Wienk, R.A.J. Janssen

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The efficiency of polymer – metal oxide hybrid solar cells depends critically on the intimacy of mixing of the two semiconductors. The effect of side chain functionalization on the morphology and performance of conjugated polymer:ZnO solar cells is investigated. Using an ester-functionalized side chain poly(3-hexylthiophene-2,5-diyl) derivative (P3HT-E), the nanoscale morphology of ZnO:polymer solar cells is significantly more intimately mixed compared to ZnO:poly(3-hexylthiophene-2,5-diyl) (ZnO:P3HT), as evidenced experimentally from a 3D reconstruction of the phase separation using electron tomography. Photoinduced absorption reveals nearly quantitative charge generation for the ZnO:P3HT-E blend but not for ZnO:P3HT, consistent with the results obtained from solving the 3D diffusion equation for excitons formed in the polymer within the two experimental ZnO morphologies. For thin ZnO:P3HT-E active layers (~50 nm) this yields a significant improvement of the solar cell performance. For thicker cells, however, the reduced hole mobility and a reduced percolation of ZnO pathways hinders charge carrier collection, limiting the power conversion efficiency.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-96
Number of pages7
JournalAdvanced Energy Materials
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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