Colloidal quantum dot (CQD) solar cells combine solution-processability with quantum-size-effect tunability for low-cost harvesting of the sun's broad visible and infrared spectrum. The highest-performing colloidal quantum dot solar cells have, to date, relied on a depleted-heterojunction architecture in which an n-type transparent metal oxide such as TiO2 induces a depletion region in the p-type CQD solid. These devices have, until now, been limited by a modest depletion region depth produced in the CQD solid owing to limitations in the doping available in TiO2. Herein we report a new device geometry - one based on a donor-supply electrode (DSE) - that leads to record-performing CQD photovoltaic devices. Only by employing this new charge-extracting approach do we deepen the depletion region in the CQD solid and thereby extract notably more photocarriers, the key element in achieving record photocurrent and device performance. With the use of optoelectronic modeling corroborated by experiment, we develop the guidelines for building a superior CQD solar cell based on the DSE concept. We confirm that using a shallow-work-function terminal electrode is essential to producing improved charge extraction and enhanced performance. © 2013 American Chemical Society.
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