Solvent-induced morphology in polymer-based systems for organic photovoltaics

Matthias A. Ruderer, Shuai Guo, Robert Meier, Hsin Yin Chiang, Volker Körstgens, Johannes Wiedersich, Jan Perlich, Stephan V. Roth, Peter Müller-Buschbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

225 Scopus citations


Studies on the influence of four different solvents on the morphology and photovoltaic performance of bulk-heterojunction films made of poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) and [6,6]-phenyl-C61 butyric acid methyl ester (PCBM) via spin-coating for photovoltaic applications are reported. Solvent-dependent PCBM cluster formation and P3HT crystallization during thermal annealing are investigated with optical microscopy and grazing-incidence wide-angle X-ray scattering (GIWAXS) and are found to be insufficient to explain the differences in device performance. A combination of atomic force microscopy (AFM), X-ray reflectivity (XRR), and grazing-incidence small-angle X-ray scattering (GISAXS) investigations results in detailed knowledge of the inner film morphology of P3HT:PCBM films. Vertical and lateral phase separation occurs during spin-coating and annealing, depending on the solvent used. The findings are summarized in schematics and compared with the IV characteristics. The main influence on the photovoltaic performance arises from the vertical material composition and the existence of lateral phase separation fitting to the exciton diffusion length. Absorption and photoluminescence measurements complement the structural analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3382-3391
Number of pages10
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
Issue number17
StatePublished - 9 Sep 2011


  • X-ray scattering
  • morphology
  • organic photovoltaics
  • polymers
  • thin films


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