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Tuning Open-Circuit Voltage in Organic Solar Cells with Molecular Orientation

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journal contribution
posted on 24.06.2015, 00:00 by Brent Kitchen, Omar Awartani, R. Joseph Kline, Terry McAfee, Harald Ade, Brendan T. O’Connor
The role of molecular orientation of a polar conjugated polymer in polymer–fullerene organic photovoltaic (OPV) cells is investigated. A planar heterojunction (PHJ) OPV cell composed of poly­(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) and [6,6]-phenyl C61-butyric acid methyl ester (PCBM) is used as a model system to isolate the effect of the interfacial orientation on the photovoltaic properties. The molecular orientation of the aggregate P3HT relative to the PCBM layer is varied from highly edge-on (conjugated ring plane perpendicular to the interface plane) to appreciably face-on (ring plane parallel to the interface). It is found that as the P3HT stacking becomes more face-on there is a positive correlation to the OPV open-circuit voltage (VOC), attributed to a shift in the highest occupied molecular orbital (HOMO) energy level of P3HT. In addition, the PHJ OPV cell with a broad P3HT stacking orientation distribution has a VOC comparable to an archetypal bulk heterojunction (BHJ) device. These results suggest that, in the BHJ OPV cell, the hole energy level in the charge transfer state is defined in part by the orientation distribution of the P3HT at the interface with PCBM. Finally, the photoresponses of the devices are also shown to have a dependence on P3HT stacking orientation.