Ultrafast Spectroscopy of Polymer: Non-fullerene Small Molecule Acceptor Bulk Heterojunction Organic Solar Cells

  • Maha A Alamoudi

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Organic photovoltaics has emerged as a promising technology for electricity generation. The essential component in an organic solar cell is the bulk heterojunction absorber layer, typically a blend of an electron donor and an electron acceptor. Efforts have been made to design new materials such as donor polymers and novel acceptors to improve the power conversion efficiencies. New fullerene free acceptors providing low cost synthesis routes and tenability of their optoelectronic and electrochemical properties have been designed. Despite the efforts, still not much is known about the photopysical processes in these blends that limit the performance. In this respect, time-resolved spectroscopy such as transient absorption and time-resolved photoluminescence, can provide in-depth insight into the various (photo) physical processes in bulk heterojunction solar cell. In this thesis, PCE10 was used as donor and paired with different non fullerene acceptors. In the first part of this thesis the impact of the core structure (cyclopenta-[2, 1-b:3, 4-b’]dithiophene (CDT) versus indacenodithiophene (IDTT)) of malononitrile (BM)-terminated acceptors, abbreviated as CDTBM and IDTTBM, on the photophysical characteristics of BHJ solar cells is reported. The IDTT-based acceptor achieves power conversion efficiencies of 8.4%, higher than the CDT-based acceptor (5.6%), due to concurrent increase in short-circuit current and open-circuit voltage. Using (ultra)fast transient spectroscopy we demonstrate that reduced geminate recombination in PCE10: IDTTBM blends is the reason for the difference in short-circuit currents. External quantum efficiency measurements indicate that the higher energy of interfacial charge-transfer states observed for the IDTT-based acceptor blends is the origin of the higher open-circuit voltage. In the second part of this thesis, I report the impact of acceptor side chains on the photo-physical processes of BHJ solar cells using three different IDT-based acceptors, namely O-IDTBR, EH-IDTBR and O-IDTBCN blended with PCE10. Power conversion efficiencies as high as 10 % were achieved. The transient absorption spectroscopy experiments provide insight into sub-picosecond exciton dissociation and charge generation which is followed by nanosecond triplet state formation in PCE10:O-DTBR and PCE10:EH-IDTBR blends, while in O-IDTBCN triplets are not observed. Time delayed collection field experiments (TDCF) were performed to address the charge carrier generation and examine its dependence on the electric field.
Date of AwardJan 7 2019
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Physical Science and Engineering
SupervisorFrederic Laquai (Supervisor)


  • Ultrafast Spectroscopy
  • Organic Photovoltaics
  • Non Fullerene Acceptors
  • Charge Recombination

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