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Published June 20, 2013 | Supplemental Material
Journal Article Open

Interpreting the Density of States Extracted from Organic Solar Cells Using Transient Photocurrent Measurements


The energetic distribution of trapped carrier states (DoS) in organic photovoltaic (OPV) devices is a key device parameter which controls carrier mobility and the recombination rate; as such, it can ultimately limit device efficiency. Recent studies have attempted to measure the DoS from working OPV devices using transient photocurrent methods adapted from the time-of-flight (ToF) method originally developed to measure mobility in thick unipolar devices. While a method to extract the DoS from OPV devices using a simple optoelectronic means would be valuable, analysis is complicated by the presence of both electrons and holes in the bipolar organic solar cells. The presence of both carrier species leads to distortion of the extracted DoS due to (a) recombination losses removing carriers from the photocurrent transient thus changing its shape and (b) both LUMO and HOMO DoS features being observed simultaneously in any measurement. In this paper we use a detailed device model to determine the conditions under which the DoS can safely be extracted from the transient photocurrent from bipolar devices. We show that under conditions of reverse bias it is possible to extract the undistorted DoS from a working OPV device. We apply our method to estimate the DoS in a bulk heterojunction solar cell made of a novel low band gap, diketopyrrolopyrrole-based polymer blended with [6,6]-phenyl-C71-butyric acid methyl ester (PC71BM) and solar cells made of poly(3 hexylthiophene):phenyl-C61-butyric acid methyl ester (P3HT:PCBM) annealed over a range of temperatures.

Additional Information

© 2013 American Chemical Society. Received: January 30, 2013. Revised: May 16, 2013. Published: May 17, 2013. R.M. gratefully acknowledges the support of the U.K. Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council EPSRC Grant No. EP/F056710/1. G.D. acknowledges the support of an EPSRC case award. We thank Imperial College High Performance Computing Service for providing computational support. J.N. thanks the Royal Society for the award of an Industrial Fellowship. M.C. and C.S. acknowledge support as part of the Center for Energy Efficient Materials, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, under Award DE-SC0001009. Solar cell fabrication was performed using the MRL Central Facilities, which are supported by the MRSEC Program of the NSF under Award DMR05-20415, a member of the NSF funded Materials Research Facilities Network. C.J.H. and M.R. thank the NSF SOLAR program for partial support of this work (CHE-1035292). N.D.T. acknowledges support from the ConvEne IGERT Program (NSF-DGE 0801627) and a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. We also acknowledge the support of the TSB via the SCALLOPS project. The authors declare no competing financial interest.

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