Determining the optimum morphology in high-performance polymer-fullerene organic photovoltaic cells

Gordon J. Hedley, Alexander J. Ward, Alexander Alekseev, Calvyn T. Howells, Emiliano R. Martins, Luis A. Serrano, Graeme Cooke, Arvydas Ruseckas, Ifor D.W. Samuel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

246 Citations (Scopus)


The morphology of bulk heterojunction organic photovoltaic cells controls many of the performance characteristics of devices. However, measuring this morphology is challenging because of the small length-scales and low contrast between organic materials. Here we use nanoscale photocurrent mapping, ultrafast fluorescence and exciton diffusion to observe the detailed morphology of a high-performance blend of PTB7:PC 71 BM. We show that optimized blends consist of elongated fullerene-rich and polymer-rich fibre-like domains, which are 10-50 nm wide and 200-400 nm long. These elongated domains provide a concentration gradient for directional charge diffusion that helps in the extraction of charge pairs with 80% efficiency. In contrast, blends with agglomerated fullerene domains show a much lower efficiency of charge extraction of ∼45%, which is attributed to poor electron and hole transport. Our results show that the formation of narrow and elongated domains is desirable for efficient bulk heterojunction solar cells.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2867
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - Dec 17 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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