Electron Barrier Formation at the Organic-Back Contact Interface is the First Step in Thermal Degradation of Polymer Solar Cells

I. T. Sachs-Quintana, Thomas Heumüller, William R. Mateker, Darian E. Orozco, Rongrong Cheacharoen, Sean Sweetnam, Christoph J. Brabec, Michael D. McGehee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


Long-term stability of polymer solar cells is determined by many factors, one of which is thermal stability. Although many thermal stability studies occur far beyond the operating temperature of a solar cell which is almost always less than 65 °C, thermal degradation is studied at temperatures that the solar cell would encounter in real-world operating conditions. At these temperatures, movement of the polymer and fullerenes, along with adhesion of the polymer to the back contact, creates a barrier for electron extraction. The polymer barrier can be removed and the performance can be restored by peeling off the electrode and depositing a new one. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy measurements reveal a larger amount of polymer adhered to electrodes peeled from aged devices than electrodes peeled from fresh devices. The degradation caused by hole-transporting polymer adhering to the electrode can be suppressed by using an inverted device where instead of electrons, holes are extracted at the back metal electrode. The problem can be ultimately eliminated by choosing a polymer with a high glass transition temperature. © 2014 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3978-3985
Number of pages8
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
Issue number25
StatePublished - Mar 24 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): KUS-C1-015-21
Acknowledgements: The authors would like to acknowledge Koen Vandewal, and Chuck Hitzman for sharing their expertise on sub-bandgap EQE, and XPS, respectively. The authors would also like to thank Christine McGuiness at Plextronics for supplying ICBA and for her helpful discussions. TH gratefully acknowledges the "DAAD Doktorantenstipedium" and the SFB 953 "Synthetic Carbon Allotropes" This publication was based on work supported by the Center for Advanced Molecular Photovoltaics (CAMP) (Award No KUS-C1-015-21), made by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


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