Enhanced intrinsic stability of the bulk heterojunction active layer blend of polymer solar cells by varying the polymer side chain pattern

Jurgen Kesters, Suleyman Kudret, Sabine Bertho, Niko Van den Brande, Maxime Defour, Bruno Van Mele, Huguette Penxten, Laurence Lutsen, Jean Manca, Dirk Vanderzande, Wouter Maes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Organic photovoltaics (OPVs) have acquired huge attention over the past years as potential renewable energy sources, adding attractive features such as aesthetics, semi-transparency, flexibility, large area printability, improved low-light performance, and cost-effectiveness to the well-known Si-based photovoltaics. Steady improvements in OPV power conversion efficiencies are continuously reported, notably for bulk heterojunction solar cells based on conjugated polymer:fullerene blends. However, apart from efficiency and cost, the stability of organic solar cell devices is of particular concern. Among the different factors contributing to OPV instability, gradual loss of the optimum phase-separated nanomorphology of the photoactive layer blend is a critical parameter. In this paper, we present the results of 'shelf-life' accelerated lifetime tests performed for devices containing a range of functionalized poly(3-alkylthiophene) (P3AT) donor polymers upon prolonged thermal stress. By the incorporation of functional moieties on the side chains of P3HT-based copolymers, a remarkable improvement of the intrinsic stability of the active layer blend morphology is accomplished, even for fairly low built-in ratios (5-15%) and without crosslinking to covalently anchor the polymer and/or fullerene molecules. Moreover, these alterations do not influence the initial power conversion efficiencies to a large extent. As such, the presented approach can be regarded as an attractive paradigm for OPV active layer stability. (C) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)549-562
Number of pages13
JournalOrganic Electronics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2014


  • Organic photovoltaics
  • Bulk heterojunction
  • Polymer:fullerene blend
  • Thermal stability
  • Advanced thermal analysis
  • Functionalized random copolythiophene


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