3 years ago

Short-Term Environmental Effects and Their Influence on Spatial Homogeneity of Organic Solar Cell Functionality

Short-Term Environmental Effects and Their Influence on Spatial Homogeneity of Organic Solar Cell Functionality
Huei-Ting Chien, Bettina Friedel, Peter W. Zach
In this study, we focus on the induced degradation and spatial inhomogeneity of organic photovoltaic devices under different environmental conditions, uncoupled from the influence of any auxiliary hole-transport (HT) layer. During testing of the corresponding devices comprising the standard photoactive layer of poly(3-hexylthiophene) as donor, blended with phenyl-C61-butyric acid methyl ester as acceptor, a comparison was made between the nonencapsulated devices upon exposure to argon in the dark, dry air in the dark, dry air with illumination, and humid air in the dark. The impact on the active layer’s photophysics is discussed, along with the device physics in terms of integral solar cell performance and spatially resolved photocurrent distribution with point-to-point analysis of the diode characteristics to determine the origin of the observed integrated organic photovoltaic device behavior. The results show that even without the widely used hygroscopic HT layer, poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene):poly(styrenesulfonate), humidity is still a major factor in the short-term environmental degradation of organic solar cells with this architecture, and not only oxygen or light, as is often reported. Different from previous reports where water-induced device degradation was spatially homogeneous and formation of Al2O3 islands was only seen for oxygen permeation through pinholes in aluminum, we observed insulating islands merely after humidity exposure in the present study. Further, we demonstrated with laser beam induced current mapping and point-to-point diode analysis that the water-induced performance losses are a result of the exposed device area comprising regions with entirely unaltered high output and intact diode behavior and those with severe degradation showing detrimentally lowered output and voltage-independent charge blocking, which is essentially insulating behavior. It is suggested that this is caused by transport of water through pinholes to the organic/metal interface, where they form insulating oxide or hydroxide islands, while the organic active layer stays unharmed.

Publisher URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsami.7b08365

DOI: 10.1021/acsami.7b08365

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