Critical light instability in CB/DIO processed PBDTTT-EFT:PC71BM organic photovoltaic devices
Organic photovoltaic (OPV) devices often undergo 'burn-in' during the early stages of operation, this period describing the relatively rapid drop in power output before stabilising. For normal and inverted PBDTTT-EFT:PC71BM OPVs prepared according to current protocols, we identify a critical and severe light-induced burn-in phase that reduces power conversion efficiency by at least 60% after 24 hours simulated AM1.5 illumination. Such losses result primarily from a reduction in photocurrent, and for inverted devices we correlate this process in-situ with the simultaneous emergence of space-chare effects on the ms timescale. The effects of burn in are also found to reduce the lifetime of photogenerated charge carriers, as determine by in-situ transient photovoltage measurements. To identify the underlying mechanisms of this instability, a range of techniques are employed ex-situ to separate bulk-and electrode-specific degradation processes. We find that whilst the active layer nanostructure and kinetics of free charge generation remain unchanged, partial photobleaching (6% of film O.D.) of PBDTTT-EFT:PC71BM occurs alongside an increase in the ground state bleach decay time of PBDTTT-EFT. We hypothesise that this latter observation may reflect relaxation from excited states on PBDTTT-EFT that do not undergo dissociation into free charges. Owing to the poor lifetime of the reference PBDTTT-EFT: PC71BM OPVs, the fabrication protocol is modified to identify routes for stability enhancement in this initially promising solar cell blend. (C) 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V.