Intermolecular charge-transfer excitons play a central role in determining the performance of organic solar cells as their voltage-dependent formation, dissociation, and recombination dynamics contribute to photocurrent generation, radiative/nonradiative voltage losses, and photovoltaic fill factor. Here, we explore the properties of brightly-emitting wide energy gap (>2 eV) charge transfer excitons by measuring the voltage-dependent photoluminescence, photocurrent, and ultrafast pump-probe transient absorption spectra of organic solar cells employing five UV-absorbing donor molecules that differ only by the length of the oligophenylene or acene group at their core. We find that organic solar cells with a strong correlation between their voltage-dependent photocurrent and charge-transfer exciton photoluminescence have low photovoltaic fill factors as they require voltage to facilitate efficient charge-transfer exciton dissociation. In contrast, solar cells that are efficient can readily generate charges without an applied field and have a separate population of tightly-bound charge-transfer excitons that are responsible for emission. Considering that the sum of all excitation loss rates (i.e., recombination and charge extraction) must be equal to the excitation generation rate in the steady state, these voltage-dependent data allow us to solve for the voltage-dependent fate of all excitations in the solar cells and estimate upper and lower bounds for geminate and non-geminate recombination, respectively.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Chemistry
- Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
- Nuclear Energy and Engineering