Toward Improved Lifetimes of Organic Solar Cells under Thermal Stress: Substrate-Dependent Morphological Stability of PCDTBT:PCBM Films and Devices

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Title: Toward Improved Lifetimes of Organic Solar Cells under Thermal Stress: Substrate-Dependent Morphological Stability of PCDTBT:PCBM Films and Devices
Authors: Li, Z
Chiu, K-H
Shahid, RS
Fearn, S
Dattani, R
Wong, HC
Tan, C-H
Wu, J
Cabral, JT
Durrant, JR
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: Morphological stability is a key requirement for outdoor operation of organic solar cells. We demonstrate that morphological stability and lifetime of polymer/fullerene based solar cells under thermal stress depend strongly on the substrate interface on which the active layer is deposited. In particular, we find that the stability of benchmark PCDTBT/PCBM solar cells under modest thermal stress is substantially increased in inverted solar cells employing a ZnO substrate compared to conventional devices employing a PEDOT:PSS substrate. This improved stability is observed to correlate with PCBM nucleation at the 50 nm scale, which is shown to be strongly influenced by different substrate interfaces. Employing this approach, we demonstrate remarkable thermal stability for inverted PCDTBT:PC70BM devices on ZnO substrates, with negligible (<2%) loss of power conversion efficiency over 160 h under 85 °C thermal stress and minimal thermally induced “burn-in” effect. We thus conclude that inverted organic solar cells, in addition to showing improved environmental stability against ambient humidity exposure as widely reported previously, can also demonstrate enhanced morphological stability. As such we show that the choice of suitable substrate interfaces may be a key factor in achieving prolonged lifetimes for organic solar cells under thermal stress conditions.
Issue Date: 15-Oct-2015
Date of Acceptance: 19-Aug-2015
ISSN: 2045-2322
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
Journal / Book Title: Scientific Reports
Volume: 5
Copyright Statement: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit
Sponsor/Funder: Engineering & Physical Science Research Council (E
Solvay Sa
Engineering & Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC)
Funder's Grant Number: n/a
Keywords: Science & Technology
Multidisciplinary Sciences
Science & Technology - Other Topics
Publication Status: Published
Article Number: 15149
Appears in Collections:Faculty of Engineering
Chemical Engineering
Faculty of Natural Sciences

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