Charge collection enhancement by incorporation of gold–silica core–shell nanoparticles into P3HT:PCBM/ZnO nanorod array hybrid solar cells
In this work, gold–silica core–shell (Au@silica) nanoparticles (NPs) with various silica-shell thicknesses are incorporated into P3HT:PCBM/ZnO nanorod (NR) hybrid solar cells. Enhancement in the short-circuit current density and the efficiency of the hybrid solar cells is attained with the appropriate addition of Au@silica NPs regardless of the silica-shell thickness. Compared to the P3HT:PCBM/ZnO NR hybrid solar cell, a 63% enhancement in the efficiency is achieved by the P3HT:PCBM/Au@silica NP/ZnO NR hybrid solar cell. The finite difference time domain simulations indicate that the strength of the Fano resonance, i.e., the electric field of the quasi-static asymmetric quadrupole, on the surface of Au@silica NPs in the P3HT:PCBM/ZnO NR hybrid significantly decreases with increasing thickness of the silica shell. Raman characterization reveals that the degree of P3HT order increases when Au@silica NPs are incorporated into the P3HT:PCBM/ZnO NR hybrid. The charge separation at the interface between P3HT and PCBM as well as the electron transport in the active layer are retarded by the electric field of the Fano resonance. Nevertheless, the prolongation of the electron lifetime and the reduction of the electron transit time in the P3HT:PCBM/ZnO NR hybrid solar cells, which result in an enhancement of electron collection, are achieved by the addition of Au@silica NPs. This may be attributed to the improvement in the degree of P3HT order and connectivity of PCBM when Au@silica NPs are incorporated into the P3HT:PCBM active layer.