• Kolb, F.; El Gemayel, M.; Khan, I.; Dostalek, J.; Trattnig, R.; Sommer, C.; List-Kratochvil, E.J.W.: The impact of plasmonic electrodes on the photocarrier extraction of inverted organic bulk heterojunction solar cells. Applied Physics A 129 (2023), p. 230/1-16

Open Accesn Version

Nano-patterning the semiconducting photoactive layer/back electrode interface of organic photovoltaic devices is a widely accepted approach to enhance the power conversion efficiency through the exploitation of numerous photonic and plasmonic effects. Yet, nano-patterning the semiconductor/metal interface leads to intertwined effects that impact the optical as well as the electrical characteristic of solar cells. In this work we aim to disentangle the optical and electrical effects of a nano-structured semiconductor/metal interface on the device performance. For this, we use an inverted bulk heterojunction P3HT:PCBM solar cell structure, where the nano-patterned photoactive layer/back electrode interface is realized by patterning the active layer with sinusoidal grating profiles bearing a periodicity of 300 nm or 400 nm through imprint lithography while varying the photoactive layer thickness (LPAL) between 90 and 400 nm. The optical and electrical device characteristics of nano-patterned solar cells are compared to the characteristics of control devices, featuring a planar photoactive layer/back electrode interface. We find that patterned solar cells show for an enhanced photocurrent generation for a LPAL above 284 nm, which is not observed when using thinner active layer thicknesses. Simulating the optical characteristic of planar and patterned devices through a finite-difference time-domain approach proves for an increased light absorption in presence of a patterned electrode interface, originating from the excitation of propagating surface plasmon and dielectric waveguide modes. Evaluation of the external quantum efficiency characteristic and the voltage dependent charge extraction characteristics of fabricated planar and patterned solar cells reveals, however, that the increased photocurrents of patterned devices do not stem from an optical enhancement but from an improved charge carrier extraction efficiency in the space charge limited extraction regime. Presented findings clearly demonstrate that the improved charge extraction efficiency of patterned solar cells is linked to the periodic surface corrugation of the (back) electrode interface.