Exciton Diffusion Length in P3HT:PCBM BHJ Cells

In summary, Physicist3 believes that the exciton diffusion length in P3HT:PCBM BHJ OSCs is dependent on the crystallinity of the material, and that a material with a high degree of crystallinity will have a higher hopping probability of excitons hopping to the PCBM phase.
  • #1
Physicist3
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Hi,

I understand that an exciton must reach the D/A interface within the Exciton diffusion length to prevent recombination, however, what are the factors during device fabrication that can affect the Exciton diffusion length of a P3HT:PCBM BHJ OSC?
 
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  • #2
You don't really expect an answer on that question, throwing in just some abbreviations without context, do you?
 
  • #3
DrDu said:
You don't really expect an answer on that question, throwing in just some abbreviations without context, do you?
Some translations:
D/A: donor/acceptor
P3HT: a thiophene polymer, the electron donor in question
PCBM: a fullerene-based electron acceptor material
BHJ OSC: bulk heterojunction organic solar cell

Now that that's out of the way, it seems like you're (referring to Physicist3) conflating a few terms here. The "exciton diffusion length," as measured by experiment, is a "typical" diffusion length of an exciton in pure P3HT. The distance that each individual exciton diffuses will follow a probability distribution, so that one can't predict ahead of time how far one particular exciton will diffuse before quenching. Bulk heterojunction cells typically capture the "long tail" of this distribution. For P3HT, the typical diffusion length is around 3-5 nm, but some excitons diffuse further. Since a P3HT:PCBM cell usually phase separates with domains on the order of 10-15 nm, some of the excitons generated in a P3HT domain are able to diffuse to a PCBM domain, where electrons can be collected by an electrode to do meaningful work.

To answer your question, then, I've never seen a study where the typical exciton diffusion length in P3HT is dependent on BHJ device fabrication. It's true that the measured diffusion length in pure P3HT varies a lot from paper to paper (I've seen anywhere from 1 nm to 10 nm), but as far as I'm aware, the main limit to efficiency in BHJ solar cells is the length scale of the phase separated donor/acceptor pairs.

This paper:

http://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlehtml/2011/nr/c0nr01002b

suggests that part of the success observed in P3HT:PCBM BHJ's may be attributed to an anomalously large charge transfer radius between the two phases, which is kind of an interesting idea. Basically, instead of the whole exciton (electron-hole pair) diffusing from its origin to the donor/acceptor interface, the exciton delocalizes over a large distance; i.e., the electron-hole separation increases. Still, however, I'm not sure the fabrication procedure would affect the size of the charge transfer radius. I'm inclined to think it's more an intrinsic property of the material.
 
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  • #4
Follow up: http://journals.aps.org/prl/pdf/10.1103/PhysRevLett.114.026402 landed in my inbox this morning, and it got me thinking about your question again. (Note: the paper itself is only of tangential relevance.) I got to thinking about the mechanism by which excitons diffuse in P3HT.

In general, a photon creates an exciton on a single P3HT chain, and then (presumably), that exciton undergoes some sort of hopping via energy transfer from one chain to the next until it either recombines or the excited electron is absorbed by the acceptor PCBM. The catch is that this hopping is STRONGLY dependent on the geometry of the system. I don't know for certain, but my gut tells me that in a system with two P3HT chains that are the same length and oriented for maximum orbital overlap, an exciton created on one chain will be much more likely to hop to the next chain than if the next chain were of a different length and oriented differently. In other words, I would expect that the exciton hopping probability increases with the degree of crystallinity of the material.

So to more fully answer your question, if I had to guess, I'd say that the exciton diffusion length depends on P3HT's crystallinity. Hang on a sec, this sounds familiar...

Yep, check out this paper. Looks like a group in Korea showed somewhat of a dependence of exciton diffusion length on crystallinity in P3HT (though the error bars are a little large). So in theory, if you were to prepare the BHJ phase-separated material in a way that retained high crystallinity of the P3HT phase, you might see an enhancement in exciton diffusion length. Sounds like a good master's thesis project.
 
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  • #5


Thank you for your question. The exciton diffusion length is an important factor in determining the efficiency of organic solar cells (OSCs). It is the distance that an exciton, which is an electron-hole pair created by the absorption of a photon, can travel before recombining. In the case of P3HT:PCBM BHJ cells, the exciton must reach the interface between the donor (P3HT) and acceptor (PCBM) materials in order to be separated and contribute to the photocurrent.

There are several factors during device fabrication that can affect the exciton diffusion length in P3HT:PCBM BHJ cells. These include the morphology and purity of the materials, the film thickness and uniformity, and the interfacial properties between the donor and acceptor materials.

The morphology of the P3HT:PCBM blend is crucial for efficient exciton diffusion. If the blend is not well-mixed, with domains of pure P3HT or PCBM, it can lead to shorter exciton diffusion lengths due to the higher probability of recombination. Additionally, impurities in the materials can act as trap sites for excitons, reducing their diffusion length.

The film thickness and uniformity also play a role in exciton diffusion. A thicker film may have a higher probability of exciton recombination due to a longer distance for the exciton to travel before reaching the interface. Non-uniformity in the film can also lead to variations in exciton diffusion length, as some regions may have a higher concentration of donor or acceptor materials.

The interfacial properties between the donor and acceptor materials can also affect exciton diffusion. If the interface is not well-defined or the molecular orientation is not optimal, it can hinder exciton dissociation and lead to shorter diffusion lengths.

In summary, the exciton diffusion length in P3HT:PCBM BHJ cells is influenced by various factors during device fabrication, including materials morphology and purity, film thickness and uniformity, and interfacial properties. Therefore, careful control of these parameters is necessary to achieve efficient exciton diffusion and improve the overall performance of organic solar cells.
 

What is exciton diffusion length?

Exciton diffusion length refers to the distance that an exciton (a bound state of an electron and a hole) can travel within a material before it dissociates or recombines. It is an important factor in determining the efficiency of solar cells.

What is P3HT:PCBM BHJ?

P3HT:PCBM BHJ (bulk heterojunction) is a commonly used blend of two organic semiconducting materials - poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) and [6,6]-phenyl-C61-butyric acid methyl ester (PCBM). This blend is used in organic solar cells as it has a high exciton diffusion length and good charge separation properties.

How is exciton diffusion length measured in P3HT:PCBM BHJ cells?

Exciton diffusion length in P3HT:PCBM BHJ cells can be measured using a variety of techniques, including time-resolved photoluminescence, transient absorption spectroscopy, and photocurrent mapping. These methods involve studying the behavior of excitons in the material under different experimental conditions.

What factors influence exciton diffusion length in P3HT:PCBM BHJ cells?

The exciton diffusion length in P3HT:PCBM BHJ cells is influenced by a number of factors, including the molecular structure and purity of the materials, the morphology of the blend film, and the presence of any impurities or defects. Additionally, external factors such as temperature and light intensity can also impact exciton diffusion length.

Why is exciton diffusion length important in P3HT:PCBM BHJ cells?

The exciton diffusion length is a critical factor in the efficiency of P3HT:PCBM BHJ solar cells as it determines the distance that excitons can travel and be effectively dissociated into free charge carriers. A longer exciton diffusion length allows for more effective charge separation, leading to higher power conversion efficiencies in the solar cell.

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