The Bulk Heterojunction in Organic Photovoltaic, Photodetector, and Photocatalytic Applications

Andrew Wadsworth, Zeinab Hamid, Jan Kosco, Nicola Gasparini, Iain McCulloch

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

186 Scopus citations


Organic semiconductors require an energetic offset in order to photogenerate free charge carriers efficiently, owing to their inability to effectively screen charges. This is vitally important in order to achieve high power conversion efficiencies in organic solar cells. Early heterojunction-based solar cells were limited to relatively modest efficiencies ('4%) owing to limitations such as poor exciton dissociation, limited photon harvesting, and high recombination losses. The development of the bulk heterojunction (BHJ) has significantly overcome these issues, resulting in dramatic improvements in organic photovoltaic performance, now exceeding 18% power conversion efficiencies. Here, the design and engineering strategies used to develop the optimal bulk heterojunction for solar-cell, photodetector, and photocatalytic applications are discussed. Additionally, the thermodynamic driving forces in the creation and stability of the bulk heterojunction are presented, along with underlying photophysics in these blends. Finally, new opportunities to apply the knowledge accrued from BHJ solar cells to generate free charges for use in promising new applications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2001763
JournalAdvanced Materials
Issue number38
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


  • bulk heterojunctions
  • nonfullerene acceptors
  • organic photodetectors
  • organic photovoltaics
  • photocatalysis


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