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ACS Nano. 2012 Nov 27;6(11):9392-401. doi: 10.1021/nn300941f. Epub 2012 Oct 8.

Spectroscopic imaging of photopotentials and photoinduced potential fluctuations in a bulk heterojunction solar cell film.

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Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, United States.


We present spatially resolved photovoltage spectra of a bulk heterojunction solar cell film composed of phase-separated poly(9,9'-dioctylfluorene-co-benzothiadiazole) (F8BT) and poly(9,9'-dioctylfluorene-co-bis-N,N'-(4-butylphenyl)-bis-N,N'-phenyl-1,4-phenylenediamine) (PFB) polymers prepared on ITO/PEDOT:PSS and aluminum substrates. Over both PFB- and F8BT-rich domains, the photopotential spectra were found to be proportional to a linear combination of the polymers' absorption spectra. Charge trapping in the film was studied using photopotential fluctuation spectroscopy, in which low-frequency photoinduced electrostatic potential fluctuations were measured by observing noise in the oscillation frequency of a nearby charged atomic force microscope cantilever. Over both F8BT- and PFB-rich regions, the magnitude, distance dependence, frequency dependence, and illumination wavelength dependence of the observed cantilever frequency noise are consistent with photopotential fluctuations arising from stochastic light-driven trapping and detrapping of charges in F8BT. Taken together, our findings suggest a microscopic mechanism by which intermixing of phases leads to charge trapping and thereby to suppressed open-circuit voltage and decreased efficiency in this prototypical bulk heterojunction solar cell film.

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