Despite tremendous progress in using additives to enhance the power conversion efficiency of organic photovoltaic devices, significant challenges remain in controlling the microstructure of the active layer, such as at internal donor-acceptor interfaces. Here, we demonstrate that the addition of low molecular weight poly(3-hexylthiophene)s (low-MW P3HT) to the P3HT/fullerene active layer increases device performance up to 36% over an unmodified control device. Low MW P3HT chains ranging in size from 1.6 to 8.0 kg/mol are blended with 77.5 kg/mol P3HT chains and [6,6]-phenyl C61 butyric acid methyl ester (PCBM) fullerenes while keeping P3HT/PCBM ratio constant. Optimal photovoltaic device performance increases are obtained for each additive when incorporated into the bulk heterojunction blend at loading levels that are dependent upon additive MW. Small-angle X-ray scattering and energy-filtered transmission electron microscopy imaging reveal that domain sizes are approximately invariant at low loading levels of the low-MW P3HT additive, and wide-angle X-ray scattering suggests that P3HT crystallinity is unaffected by these additives. These results suggest that oligomeric P3HTs compatibilize donor-acceptor interfaces at low loading levels but coarsen domain structures at higher loading levels and they are consistent with recent simulations results. Although results are specific to the P3HT/PCBM system, the notion that low molecular weight additives can enhance photovoltaic device performance generally provides a new opportunity for improving device performance and operating lifetimes.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)