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Effects of Mild Plasma Exposure on the Active-Layer in Polythiophene:Fullerene Bulk-Heterojunction Solar Cells

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In order to investigate the optoelectronic impact of plasma treatment on the active-layer in polymer based bulk-heterojunction photovoltaics, we fabricated solar cells with poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) and [6,6]-phenyl-C61-butyric acid methyl ester (PCBM) (1:0.8 wt%) blend as the active-layer. It was observed that even a short (5 s exposure) air or argon plasma treatment can effectively change the wettability of several polar organic solvents on the P3HT:PCBM layer, while the devices realized from the treated active-layers still remain functional with a slight reduction in the effective built-in electric field. Other structural properties of the active-layer, like surface-morphology, film-thickness, UV-Vis absorbance and photoluminescence (PL) remained unaffected. Time-resolved PL spectroscopy showed that bi-exponential fluorescence decay parameters of the P3HT:PCBM layer were also not altered. Our results indicate that a mild plasma exposure induces some charge traps, only on the surface of the active-layer, without affecting its bulk structural and photophysical properties. Hence, a short plasma exposure of the active-layer is promising, as a largely non-destructive technique for the realization of solution processable multilayer heterojunction and tandem photovoltaic architectures from species soluble in dissimilar solvents.
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Keywords: BULK-HETEROJUNCTION SOLAR CELLS; PLASMA TREATMENT; SOLUTION PROCESSABLE; TANDEM SOLAR CELLS

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 December 2007

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  • Journal of Nanoelectronics and Optoelectronics (JNO) is an international and cross-disciplinary peer reviewed journal to consolidate emerging experimental and theoretical research activities in the areas of nanoscale electronic and optoelectronic materials and devices into a single and unique reference source. JNO aims to facilitate the dissemination of interdisciplinary research results in the inter-related and converging fields of nanoelectronics and optoelectronics.
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