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Journal ArticleDOI

Mass production of a 3D non-woven nanofabric with crystalline P3HT nanofibrils for organic solar cells

20 Feb 2013-Energy and Environmental Science (The Royal Society of Chemistry)-Vol. 6, Iss: 3, pp 910-917

AbstractA strategy for the in line mass production of a three-dimensional (3D) non-woven nanofabric consisting of crystalline P3HT nanofibrils, created by in situ cooling of the transportation line to feed a P3HT solution for a coating tool, was introduced. The required cooling-temperature with respect to the feeding rate for the overall nanofibril creating process and the yield of the nanofibrils in solution with various organic solvents were determined. Considering the influence of a change in the temperature on the status of the precipitated nanofibrils until feeding it into the spray nozzle, the margin of the surviving nanofibrils at a certain temperature was also investigated. To verify the superiority of our strategy and present directions regarding its application to industry, arrays of organic solar cells based on a 3D non-woven nanofabric structure consisting of P3HT nanofibrils were designed and fabricated using our in situ process combined with a spray-coating system. As a result, through the in situ cooling process, a considerable solar energy harvesting efficiency near 4%, which is a state-of-the-art value in a bi-layer-based solar cell, was obtained.

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Citations
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Journal Article
TL;DR: Organic solar cells with a photonic crystal nanostructure embossed in the photoactive bulk heterojunction layer are reported, a topography that exhibits a 3-fold enhancement of the absorption in specific regions of the solar spectrum in part through multiple excitation resonances.
Abstract: We report organic solar cells with a photonic crystal nanostructure embossed in the photoactive bulk heterojunction layer, a topography that exhibits a 3-fold enhancement of the absorption in specific regions of the solar spectrum in part through multiple excitation resonances. The photonic crystal geometry is fabricated using a materials-agnostic process called PRINT wherein highly ordered arrays of nanoscale features are readily made in a single processing step over wide areas (approximately 4 cm(2)) that is scalable. We show efficiency improvements of approximately 70% that result not only from greater absorption, but also from electrical enhancements. The methodology is generally applicable to organic solar cells and the experimental findings reported in our manuscript corroborate theoretical expectations.

214 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This study suggests a simple way to simultaneously address all of these issues through the addition of a small amount of a nonionic surfactant (Triton X-100) to commercial PEDOT:PSS solutions.
Abstract: The use of poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene):poly(styrenesulfonate) (PEDOT:PSS) in electrodes and electrical circuits presents a number of challenges that are yet to be overcome, foremost amongst which are its relatively low conductivity, low coatability on hydrophobic substrates, and decreased conductivity at large strains. With this in mind, this study suggests a simple way to simultaneously address all of these issues through the addition of a small amount of a nonionic surfactant (Triton X-100) to commercial PEDOT:PSS solutions. This surfactant is shown to considerably reduce the surface tension of the PEDOT:PSS solution, thus permitting conformal coatings of PEDOT:PSS thin film on a diverse range of hydrophobic substrates. Furthermore, this surfactant induces the formation of PEDOT nanofibrils during coating, which led to the high conductivity values and mechanical stability at large strains (e=10.3%). Taking advantage of the superior characteristics of these PEDOT:PSS thin films, a highly flexible polymer solar cell was fabricated. The power conversion efficiency of this solar cell (3.14% at zero strain) was preserved at large strains (e=7.0%).

113 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: Polymer:fullerene bulk heterojunction (BHJ) solar cell active layers can be created by traditional blend casting (BC), where the components are mixed together in solution before deposition, or by sequential processing (SqP), where the pure polymer and fullerene materials are cast sequentially from different solutions. Presently, however, the relative merits of SqP as compared to BC are not fully understood because there has yet to be an equivalent (composition- and thickness-matched layer) comparison between the two processing techniques. The main reason why matched SqP and BC devices have not been compared is because the composition of SqP active layers has not been accurately known. In this paper, we present a novel technique for accurately measuring the polymer:fullerene film composition in SqP active layers, which allows us to make the first comparisons between rigorously composition- and thickness-matched BHJ organic solar cells made by SqP and traditional BC. We discover that, in optimal photovoltaic devices, SqP active layers have a very similar composition as their optimized BC counterparts (≈44-50 mass % PCBM). We then present a thorough investigation of the morphological and device properties of thickness- and composition-matched P3HT:PCBM SqP and BC active layers in order to better understand the advantages and drawbacks of both processing approaches. For our matched devices, we find that small-area SqP cells perform better than BC cells due to both superior film quality and enhanced optical absorption from more crystalline P3HT. The enhanced film quality of SqP active layers also results in higher performance and significantly better reproducibility in larger-area devices, indicating that SqP is more amenable to scaling than the traditional BC approach. X-ray diffraction, UV-vis absorption, and energy-filtered transmission electron tomography collectively show that annealed SqP active layers have a finer-scale blend morphology and more crystalline polymer and fullerene domains when compared to equivalently processed BC active layers. Charge extraction by linearly increasing voltage (CELIV) measurements, combined with X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, also show that the top (nonsubstrate) interface for SqP films is slightly richer in PCBM compared to matched BC active layers. Despite these clear differences in bulk and vertical morphology, transient photovoltage, transient photocurrent, and subgap external quantum efficiency measurements all indicate that the interfacial electronic processes occurring at P3HT:PCBM heterojunctions are essentially identical in matched-annealed SqP and BC active layers, suggesting that device physics are surprisingly robust with respect to the details of the BHJ morphology. © 2014 American Chemical Society.

44 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Investigating the photo-oxidation behavior of a bulk-heterojunction (BHJ) photoactive film made of single-crystalline poly(3-hexlythiophene) (P3HT) nanofibrils and fullerene derivatives showed significantly enhanced air stability under sunlight, whereas the PCE of the conventional BHJ solar cell decreased to 20% of its initial PCE under the same experimental conditions.
Abstract: In spite of the rapid increase in the power conversion efficiency (PCE) of polymer solar cells (PSCs), the poor stability of the photoactive layer in air under sunlight is a critical problem blocking commercialization of PSCs. This study investigates the photo-oxidation behavior of a bulk-heterojunction (BHJ) photoactive film made of single-crystalline poly(3-hexlythiophene) (P3HT) nanofibrils and fullerene derivatives [phenyl-C61-butyric methyl ester (PCBM), indene-C 60 bisadduct (ICBA)]. Because the single-crystalline P3HT nanofibrils had tightly packed π–π stacking, the permeation of oxygen and water into the nanofibrils was significantly reduced. Chemical changes in P3HT were not apparent in the nanofibrils, and hence the air stability of the nanofibril-based BHJ film was considerably enhanced as compared with conventional BHJ films. The chemical changes were monitored by Fourier-transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, and UV–vis absorbance. Inverted PSCs made of the nanofibril-ba...

30 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The photoactive nanoweb substrates developed in this study may serve as platforms for producing stem cell therapeutics with enhanced neurogenesis and neuromodulation via optoelectrical control of stem cells.
Abstract: Optoelectrical manipulation has recently gained attention for cellular engineering; however, few material platforms can be used to efficiently regulate stem cell behaviors via optoelectrical stimulation. In this study, we developed nanoweb substrates composed of photoactive polymer poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) to enhance the neurogenesis of human fetal neural stem cells (hfNSCs) through photo-induced electrical stimulation. Methods The photoactive nanoweb substrates were fabricated by self-assembled one-dimensional (1D) P3HT nanostructures (nanofibrils and nanorods). The hfNSCs cultured on the P3HT nanoweb substrates were optically stimulated with a green light (539 nm) and then differentiation of hfNSCs on the substrates with light stimulation was examined. The utility of the nanoweb substrates for optogenetic application was tested with photo-responsive hfNSCs engineered by polymer nanoparticle-mediated transfection of an engineered chimeric opsin variant (C1V1)-encoding gene. Results The nanoweb substrates provided not only topographical stimulation for activating focal adhesion signaling of hfNSCs, but also generated optoelectrical stimulation via photochemical and charge-transfer reactions upon exposure to 539 nm wavelength light, leading to significantly enhanced neuronal differentiation of hfNSCs. The optoelectrically stimulated hfNSCs exhibited mature neuronal phenotypes with highly extended neurite formation and functional neuron-like electrophysiological features of sodium currents and action potentials. Optoelectrical stimulation with 539 nm light simultaneously activated both C1V1-modified hfNSCs and nanoweb substrates, which upregulated the expression and activation of voltage-gated ion channels in hfNSCs and further increased the effect of photoactive substrates on neuronal differentiation of hfNSCs. Conclusion The photoactive nanoweb substrates developed in this study may serve as platforms for producing stem cell therapeutics with enhanced neurogenesis and neuromodulation via optoelectrical control of stem cells.

19 citations


Cites background or methods from "Mass production of a 3D non-woven n..."

  • ...photocurrent in bulk-heterojunction and bilayer organic solar cells [19, 22]....

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  • ...The degree of electron transfer from P3HT to the electron acceptor depends on the interface area between the electron donor (P3HT) and acceptor (stem cells), as the exciton generated by light in P3HT is separated by the interface of the electron donor and acceptor [22]....

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  • ...The P3HT substrates were prepared as reported previously [22]....

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References
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Journal ArticleDOI
10 Aug 1995-Nature
Abstract: THE photovoltaic effect involves the production of electrons and holes in a semiconductor device under illumination, and their subsequent collection at opposite electrodes. In many inorganic semiconductors, photon absorption produces free electrons and holes directly1. But in molecular semiconductors, absorption creates electrona¤-hole pairs (excitons) which are bound at room temperature2, so that charge collection requires their dissociation. Exciton dissociation is known to be efficient at interfaces between materials with different electron affinities and ionization potentials, where the electron is accepted by the material with larger electron affinity and the hole by the material with lower ionization potential3. A two-layer diode structure can thus be used, in which excitons generated in either layer diffuse towards the interface between the layers. However, the exciton diffusion range is typically at least a factor of 10 smaller than the optical absorption depth, thus limiting the efficiency of charge collection3. Here we show that the interpenetrating network formed from a phase-segregated mixture of two semiconducting polymers provides both the spatially distributed interfaces necessary for efficient charge photo-generation, and the means for separately collecting the electrons and holes. Devices using thin films of these polymer mixtures show promise for large-area photodetectors.

3,073 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Both the improved crystalline nature of films and increased but controlled demixing between the two constitutes therein after annealing explains the considerable increase of the power conversion efficiency observed in these devices.
Abstract: Transmission electron microscopy and electron diffraction are used to study the changes in morphology of composite films of poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) and a methanofullerene derivative (PCBM) in bulk heterojunction solar cells. Thermal annealing produces and stabilizes a nanoscale interpenetrating network with crystalline order for both components. P3HT forms long, thin conducting nanowires in a rather homogeneous, nanocrystalline PCBM film. Both the improved crystalline nature of films and increased but controlled demixing between the two constitutes therein after annealing explains the considerable increase of the power conversion efficiency observed in these devices.

1,519 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: The self-organization of the polymer in solar cells based on regioregular poly(3-hexylthiophene) (RR-P3HT):[6,6]-phenyl C61-butyric acid methyl ester (PCBM) is studied systematically as a function of the spin-coating time ts (varied from 20–80 s), which controls the solvent annealing time ta, the time taken by the solvent to dry after the spin-coating process. These blend films are characterized by photoluminescence spectroscopy, UV-vis absorption spectroscopy, atomic force microscopy, and grazing incidence X-ray diffraction (GIXRD) measurements. The results indicate that the π-conjugated structure of RR-P3HT in the films is optimally developed when ta is greater than 1 min (ts ∼ 50 s). For ts < 50 s, both the short-circuit current (JSC) and the power conversion efficiency (PCE) of the corresponding polymer solar cells show a plateau region, whereas for 50 < ts < 55 s, the JSC and PCE values are significantly decreased, suggesting that there is a major change in the ordering of the polymer in this time window. The PCE decreases from 3.6 % for a film with a highly ordered π-conjugated structure of RR-P3HT to 1.2 % for a less-ordered film. GIXRD results confirm the change in the ordering of the polymer. In particular, the incident photon-to-electron conversion efficiency spectrum of the less-ordered solar cell shows a clear loss in both the overall magnitude and the long-wavelength response. The solvent annealing effect is also studied for devices with different concentrations of PCBM (PCBM concentrations ranging from 25 to 67 wt %). Under “solvent annealing” conditions, the polymer is seen to be ordered even at 67 wt % PCBM loading. The open-circuit voltage (VOC) is also affected by the ordering of the polymer and the PCBM loading in the active layer.

1,135 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: This article provides an overview on the recent development of solution processed organic, inorganic, and hybrid interfacial materials for bulk-heterojunction polymer solar cells. The introduction of proper interfacial materials to optimize the electronic and electrical properties between the interfaces of the light-harvesting active layer and the charge-collecting electrode has become an important criterion to improve the performance of polymer solar cells. The electronic processes at these interfaces play a critical role in determining the efficiency for photon-to-electricity conversion. An ideal interface requires the formation of Ohmic contact with minimum resistance and high charge selectivity to prevent charge carriers from reaching the opposite electrodes. For long-term stability of polymer solar cells, interfaces with matched surface energy are required to prevent interfacial dewetting and delamination. Several classes of interfacial materials including inorganic metal oxides, crosslinkable charge-transporting materials, conjugated polymer electrolytes, self-assembled functional molecules, and graphene-based materials are highlighted and the integration of these interfacial materials with new low bandgap polymers and fullerene derivatives as active materials in different device architectures is also discussed.

918 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: Developing a better understanding of the evolution of morphology in plastic solar cells is the key to designing new materials and structures that achieve photoconversion efficiencies greater than 10% In the most extensively characterized system, the poly(3-hexyl thiophene) (P3HT):[6,6]-phenyl-C61-butyric-acid-methyl-ester (PCBM) bulk heterojunction, the origins and evolution of the blend morphology during processes such as thermal annealing are not well understood In this work, we use a model system, a bilayer of P3HT and PCBM, to develop a more complete understanding of the miscibility and diffusion of PCBM within P3HT during thermal annealing We find that PCBM aggregates and/or molecular species are miscible and mobile in disordered P3HT, without disrupting the ordered lamellar stacking of P3HT chains The fast diffusion of PCBM into the amorphous regions of P3HT suggests the favorability of mixing in this system, opposing the belief that phase-pure domains form in BHJs due to immiscibility of these two components

610 citations