5 years ago

Enhanced Long-term and Thermal Stability of Polymer Solar Cells in Air at High Humidity with the Formation of Unusual Quantum Dot Networks

Enhanced Long-term and Thermal Stability of Polymer Solar Cells in Air at High Humidity with the Formation of Unusual Quantum Dot Networks
Ricardo Izquierdo, Long Tan, Fan Yang, Mee Rahn Kim, Dongling Ma, Pandeng Li, Deepak Thrithamarassery Gangadharan, Mohamed Chaker, Joëlle Margot
Due to the practical applications of polymer solar cells (PSCs), their stability recently has received increasing attention. Herein, a new strategy was developed to largely enhance the long-term and thermal stability of PSCs in air with a relatively high humidity of 50–60% without any encapsulation. In this strategy, semiconductor PbS/CdS core/shell quantum dots (QDs) were incorporated into the photoactive blend of poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) and phenyl-C61-butyric acid methyl ester (PCBM). By replacing the initial ligands of oleic acid with halide ligands on the surface of PbS/CdS QDs via solution-phase ligand exchange, we were able to form unusual, continuous QD networks in the film of P3HT:PCBM, which effectively stabilized the photoactive layer. Air-processed PSCs based on the stabilized P3HT:PCBM film showed excellent long-term stability under high humidity, providing over 3% of power conversion efficiency (PCE) simultaneously. Around 91% of pristine PCE was retained after 30 days storage in high-humidity air without encapsulation. This constitutes a remarkable improvement compared to ∼53% retained PCE for the QD-free devices, which can be ascribed to the efficient suppression of both PCBM aggregation and oxidation of the thiophene ring in P3HT, thanks to the formation of robust QD networks. Furthermore, the presence of QD networks was able to enhance the stability of the P3HT:PCBM film against thermal stress/oxidation under high-humidity environment (50–60%) as well. The device kept 60% of pristine PCE after thermal treatment for 12 h at 85 °C in air, which is more than twice higher than that for the QD-free device. To the best of our knowledge, the work represents the first unambiguous demonstration of the formation of QD networks in the photoactive layer and of their important contribution to the stability of PSCs. This strategy is highly promising for other fullerene-based PSCs and opens a new avenue toward achieving PSCs with high PCE and excellent stability.

Publisher URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsami.7b06145

DOI: 10.1021/acsami.7b06145

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