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Sequential Processing for Organic Photovoltaics: Design Rules for Morphology Control by Tailored Semi-Orthogonal Solvent Blends


© 2015 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim. Design rules are presented for significantly expanding sequential processing (SqP) into previously inaccessible polymer:fullerene systems by tailoring binary solvent blends for fullerene deposition. Starting with a base solvent that has high fullerene solubility, 2-chlorophenol (2-CP), ellipsometry-based swelling experiments are used to investigate different co-solvents for the fullerene-casting solution. By tuning the Flory-Huggins χ parameter of the 2-CP/co-solvent blend, it is possible to optimally swell the polymer of interest for fullerene interdiffusion without dissolution of the polymer underlayer. In this way solar cell power conversion efficiencies are obtained for the PTB7 (poly[(4,8-bis[(2-ethylhexyl)oxy]benzo[1,2-b:4,5-b']dithiophene-2,6-diyl)(3-fluoro-2-[(2-ethylhexyl)carbonyl]thieno[3,4-b]thiophenediyl)]) and PC61BM (phenyl-C61-butyric acid methyl ester) materials combination that match those of blend-cast films. Both semicrystalline (e.g., P3HT (poly(3-hexylthiophene-2,5-diyl)) and entirely amorphous (e.g., PSDTTT (poly[(4,8-di(2-butyloxy)benzo[1,2-b:4,5-b']dithiophene-2,6-diyl)-alt-(2,5-bis(4,4'-bis(2-octyl)dithieno[3,2-b:2'3'-d]silole-2,6-diyl)thiazolo[5,4-d]thiazole)]) conjugated polymers can be processed into highly efficient photovoltaic devices using the solvent-blend SqP design rules. Grazing-incidence wide-angle x-ray diffraction experiments confirm that proper choice of the fullerene casting co-solvent yields well-ordered interdispersed bulk heterojunction (BHJ) morphologies without the need for subsequent thermal annealing or the use of trace solvent additives (e.g., diiodooctane). The results open SqP to polymer/fullerene systems that are currently incompatible with traditional methods of device fabrication, and make BHJ morphology control a more tractable problem.

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