Despite potential advantages, the performance of hybrid solar cells with colloidal nanocrystals remains low compared to pure organic solar cells, in particular, when Cd- and Pb-free nanocrystals are employed. To understand this discrepancy, we analyzed possible limiting factors of the performance of hybrid solar cells with CuInS2 nanoparticles and the polymer poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT).
Optimizing the thickness of the active layer indicated that charge transport limits the performance of the solar cells. Since charge transport is among others influenced by the morphology of the bulk heterojunction layer, we performed a detailed analysis of the blend morphology. Therefore, we used electron tomography which provides three-dimensional information on the interpenetrating network formed by the hybrid CuInS2:P3HT system. Using statistical methods, we analyzed the distribution of the nanoparticles inside the polymer matrix and the structure of the percolation paths. We found that the morphology appears well suited for application in hybrid solar cells, meaning that other factors must be the bottleneck.
Therefore, we investigated in a second step the influence of a post-deposition ligand exchange with acetic acid. This strategy resulted in a strong relative improvement of the solar cell performance, although absolute performance parameters remain low in comparison to hybrid solar cells with colloidal cadmium or lead chalcogenide nanocrystals.
Krause, C., Scheunemann, D., Parisi, J. and Borchert, H., 2015. Three-dimensional morphology of CuInS2: P3HT hybrid blends for photovoltaic applications. Journal of Applied Physics, 118(20), p.205501.
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