Charge Separation Pathways in a Highly Efficient Polymer:Fullerene Solar Cell Material
PBDTTPD is one of the best conjugated polymers for solar cell applications (up to 8.5% efficiency). We have investigated the dynamics of charge generation in the blend with fullerene (PCBM) and addressed highly relevant topics such as the role of bulk heterojunction structure, fullerene excitation, and excess energy. We show that there are multiple charge separation pathways. These include electron transfer from photoexcited polymer, hole transfer from photoexcited PCBM, prompt (<100 fs) charge generation in intimately mixed polymer:fullerene regions (which can occur from hot states), as well as slower electron and hole transfer from excitons formed in pure PBDTTPD or PCBM domains (diffusion to an interface is necessary): Very interestingly, all the charge separation pathways are highly efficient. For example, the yield of long-lived carriers is not significantly affected by the excitation wavelength, although this changes the fraction of photons absorbed by PCBM and the amount of excess energy brought to the system. Overall, the favorable properties of the PBDTTPD:PCBM blend in terms of morphology and exciton delocalization allow excellent charge generation in all circumstances and strongly contribute to the high photovoltaic performance of the blend.