The performance of bulk-heterojunction solar cells is significantly affected by several factors among which are the nano-morphology of the photoactive layer and the properties of interfacial layers promoting charge extraction and collection at the electrodes. In this work, we investigate the correlation between the MoO x layer thickness and the thermal annealing procedure on the device performance and on the charge extraction efficiency of inverted ITO/PEI/P3HT:PCBM/MoO x /Ag bulk heterojunction solar cells. The surface morphology of pristine and annealed P3HT:PCBM photoactive layers is examined by atomic force microscopy before and after the exposure to dichloromethane revealing that the distribution of the amorphous regions within the P3HT:PCBM layers can be related to the applied thermal annealing procedure. The chemical and molecular composition profiles in the photoactive layer and at the interfaces are investigated through depth profile analyses combining X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry showing a decreasing oxidation gradient of the MoO x and low diffusion of the MoO x species in the P3HT:PCBM layer. Additionally, we show that the voltage dependent photocurrent is significantly affected by non-geminate recombination for devices with a too thin MoO x layer thickness, while applying a non-optimal thermal annealing procedure leads to increased geminate recombination of charge carriers. The highest charge extraction efficiency and device performance is reached for devices with a MoO x layer above 5 nm while thermal annealing procedure has to be applied before the deposition of the MoO x /Ag layers.
Facility/equipment: Technological Platform