Photonics and transport in bulk heterojunction organic solar cells Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Tumbleston, John R.
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Physics and Astronomy
  • In this thesis, the groundwork is established for a new type of bulk heterojunction (BHJ) organic solar cell geometry that has photonic crystal (PC) photoactive layers. This design is motivated by the need to improve light absorption without increasing active layer thickness, which for many BHJ systems, degrades electrical performance. It is demonstrated that with the right choice of materials and cell dimensions, quasiguided or resonant modes are excited near the band edge of a variety of BHJ blends to enhance absorption. Resonant modes are predicted by first developing a scattering matrix optical model and then observed in wavelength-, polarization-, and angular-dependent reflection and photocurrent measurements. PC cells are fabricated using a facile nanopatterning technique, where highly ordered arrays of submicron features are constructed over large areas in a single step. Optical and electrical function of this new cell architecture is fully explored in this thesis. Through optical measurements and modeling, PC devices show clear enhancements in light absorption. On the other hand, the impact of the nonplanar geometry on electrical performance is not as easily deduced due to the multitude of electrical processes that lead to photocurrent generation. First, the electrical properties of the electron transporting layer that interfaces with the BHJ nanopattern and provides optical contrast in the PC greatly affect parasitic resistances in the solar cell. By including resistance losses in a drift/diffusion numerical model that describes electrical performance, it is shown that these losses greatly influence fundamental steps leading to photocurrent generation. This is confirmed with experiment by comparing two BHJ material systems that have different affinities for exciton separation. Second, significant levels of free carrier recombination are predicted by the electro-optical model due to the relatively long transport paths in the nanopattern features. To test this prediction, an experimental technique is developed to measure the transport lengths of photogenerated electrons and holes in BHJ solar cells. It is found that transport lengths of positive and negative carriers are mismatched and helps explain both PC electrical performance and recent conflicting results of planar BHJ solar cells in the literature.
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  • In Copyright
  • "... in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of Physics and Astronomy."
  • López Noriega, René
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Place of publication
  • Chapel Hill, NC
  • Open access

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