Electron spin is a key consideration for the function of organic semiconductors in light-emitting diodes and solar cells, as well as spintronic applications relying on organic magnetoresistance. A mechanism for triplet excited state generation in such systems is by recombination of electron-hole pairs. However, the exact charge recombination mechanism, whether geminate or nongeminate and whether it involves spin-state mixing is not well understood. In this work, the dynamics of free charge separation competing with recombination to polymer triplet states is studied in two closely related polymer-fullerene blends with differing polymer fluorination and photovoltaic performance. Using time-resolved laser spectroscopic techniques and quantum chemical calculations, we show that lower charge separation in the fluorinated system is associated with the formation of bound electron-hole pairs, which undergo spin-state mixing on the nanosecond timescale and subsequent geminate recombination to triplet excitons. We find that these bound electron-hole pairs can be dissociated by electric fields.
KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01