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Nano Lett. 2007 Mar;7(3):738-44. Epub 2007 Feb 13.

Mapping local photocurrents in polymer/fullerene solar cells with photoconductive atomic force microscopy.

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  • 1University of Washington, Department of Chemistry, Box 351700, Seattle, Washington 98195-1700, USA.


The performance of organic solar cells is highly dependent on film morphology. However, directly correlating local film structures with device performance remains challenging. We demonstrate that photoconductive atomic force microscopy (pcAFM) can be used to map local photocurrents with 20 nm resolution in donor/acceptor blend solar cells of the conjugated polymer poly[2-methoxy-5-(3',7'-dimethyloctyl-oxy)-1,4-phenylene vinylene] (MDMO-PPV) with the fullerene (6,6)-phenyl-C61-butyric acid methyl ester (PCBM) spin-coated from various solvents. We present photocurrent maps under short-circuit conditions (zero applied bias) as well as under various applied voltages. We find significant variation in the short-circuit current between regions that appear identical in AFM topography. These variations occur from one domain to another as well as on larger length scales incorporating multiple domains. These results suggest that the performance of polymer-fullerene blends can still be improved through better control of morphology.

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