The effect of solvent additives on morphology and excited-state dynamics in PCPDTBT:PCBM photovoltaic blends

Fabian Etzold, Ian A. Howard, Nina Forler, Don M. Cho, Michael Meister, Hannah Mangold, Jie Shu, Michael Ryan Hansen, Klaus Müllen, Frédéric Laquai*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

190 Scopus citations


The dependence of the thin film morphology and excited-state dynamics for the low-bandgap donor-acceptor copolymer poly[2,6-(4,4-bis-(2-ethylhexyl)-4H- cyclopenta[2,1-b;3,4-b′]-dithiophene)-alt-4,7-(2,1,3-benzothiadiazole)] (PCPDTBT) in pristine films and in blends (1:2) with [6,6]-phenyl-C 61-butyric acid methyl ester (PCBM) on the use of the solvent additive 1,8-octanedithiol (ODT) is studied by solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and broadband visible and near-infrared pump-probe transient absorption spectroscopy (TAS) covering a spectral range from 500-2000 nm. The latter allows monitoring of the dynamics of excitons, bound interfacial charge-transfer (CT) states, and free charge carriers over a time range from femto- to microseconds. The broadband pump-probe experiments reveal that excitons are not only generated in the polymer but also in PCBM-rich domains. Depending on the morphology controlled by the use of solvent additives, polymer excitons undergo mainly ultrafast dissociation (<100 fs) in blends prepared without ODT or diffusion-limited dissociation in samples prepared with ODT. Excitons generated in PCBM diffuse slowly to the interface in both samples and undergo dissociation on a time scale of several tens of picoseconds up to hundreds of picoseconds. In both samples a significant fraction of the excitons creates strongly bound interfacial CT states, which exhibit subnanosecond geminate recombination. The total internal quantum efficiency loss due to geminate recombination is estimated to be 50% in samples prepared without ODT and is found to be reduced to 30% with ODT, indicating that more free charges are generated in samples prepared with solvent additives. In samples prepared with ODT, the free charges exhibit clear intensity-dependent recombination dynamics, which can be modeled by Langevin-type recombination with a bimolecular recombination coefficient of 6.3 × 10 -11 cm 3 s -1. In samples prepared without ODT, an additional nanosecond recombination of polaron pairs is observed in conjunction with an increased intensity-independent trap-assisted nongeminate recombination of charges. Furthermore, a comparison of the triplet-induced absorption spectra of PCPDTBT with the charge-induced absorption in PCPDTBT:PCBM blends reveals that triplets have a very similar excited-state absorption spectrum compared to the free charge carriers, however, in contrast have a distinct intensity-independent lifetime. Overall, our results suggest that whether free charges or strongly bound CT states are created upon dissociation of excitons at the PCPDTBT:PCBM interface is determined instantaneously upon exciton dissociation and that once formed strongly bound CT states rapidly recombine and thus are unlikely to dissociate into free charges. The observation of a significantly larger bimolecular recombination coefficient than previously determined for poly(3-hexylthiophen-2,5-diyl):PCBM (P3HT:PCBM) and PCDTBT:PCBM samples indicates that nongeminate recombination of free charges considerably competes with charge extraction in PCPDTBT:PCBM photovoltaic devices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10569-10583
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number25
StatePublished - Jun 27 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Catalysis
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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