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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Morphology control enables thickness-insensitive efficient nonfullerene polymer solar cells


Owing to the use of cost-effective materials and excellent stability, nonfullerene polymer solar cells (PSCs) have great potential for realizing large-area industrial production. In contrast to fullerene-based devices, non-fullerene PSCs have exhibited a superior photovoltaic performance with up to 12% efficiency and long-term thermal stability. Presently, one of the major factors hindering industrial production is the high sensitivity of the power conversion efficiency (PCE) to thickness variations, which can significantly affect the manufacturing yields and production costs of roll-to-roll processing. Specifically, the device fill factors and PCEs of many high-efficiency nonfullerene PSCs show a significant loss when the thickness of the active layer is over 100 nm. In order to achieve high output capabilities earlier, there is an urgent need to find a processing method to fabricate high-efficiency thick-film nonfullerene PSCs. Controlling the morphology and performance sensitivity in thick-film non-fullerene devices is a great challenge in the field. Here, we present a simple morphology optimization method via thermal annealing to fabricate highly efficient thickness-insensitive non-fullerene PSCs. After this treatment, PBDB-T/IT-M-based nonfullerene PSCs can afford an impressive PCE of up to ∼9.4% at an active layer thickness of 250 nm. In addition, the devices with an active layer thickness of 400 nm still maintain a high efficiency close to 9%. The photovoltaic properties and morphology parameters resolved from hard and soft X-ray scattering clearly indicate that thermal annealing plays a key role in improving the film thickness insensitivity for non-fullerene PSCs.

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