Mapping the Competition between Exciton Dissociation and Charge Transport in Organic Solar Cells

Soong Ju Oh, Jongbok Kim, Jeffrey M. Mativetsky, Yueh Lin Loo, Cherie R. Kagan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The competition between exciton dissociation and charge transport in organic solar cells comprising poly(3-hexylthiophene) [P3HT] and phenyl-C61-butyric acid methyl ester [PCBM] is investigated by correlated scanning confocal photoluminescence and photocurrent microscopies. Contrary to the general expectation that higher photoluminescence quenching is indicative of higher photocurrent, microscale mapping of bulk-heterojunction solar-cell devices shows that photoluminescence quenching and photocurrent can be inversely proportional to one another. To understand this phenomenon, we construct a model system by selectively laminating a PCBM layer onto a P3HT film to form a PCBM/P3HT planar junction on half of the device and a P3HT single junction on the other half. Upon thermal annealing to allow for interdiffusion of PCBM into P3HT, an inverse relationship between photoluminescence quenching and photocurrent is observed at the boundary between the PCBM/P3HT junction and P3HT layer. Incorporation of PCBM in P3HT works to increase photoluminescence quenching, consistent with efficient charge separation, but conductive atomic force microscopy measurements reveal that PCBM acts to decrease P3HT hole mobility, limiting the efficiency of charge transport. This suggests that photoluminescence-quenching measurements should be used with caution in evaluating new organic materials for organic solar cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28743-28749
Number of pages7
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number42
StatePublished - Oct 26 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science


  • charge transport
  • exciton dissociation
  • organic solar cells
  • scanning confocal photoluminescence microscopy
  • scanning photocurrent microscopy


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