Spatial degradation mapping and component-wise degradation tracking in polymer–fullerene blends†
Using X-ray absorption the effects of photodegradation in active layer materials for polymer solar cells are investigated. Through the observation of changes in the X-ray absorption energy spectra the degradation of the individual components is tracked in blends of poly-3-hexyl-thiophene (P3HT) and C60 butyric acid methyl ester (PCBM). The degradation rates in the blend are decreased by a factor of 3 for P3HT and by a factor between 1.1 and 2.3 for PCBM compared to the pure materials. For P3HT, degradation is resolved spatially using scanning transmission X-ray microscopy and the photodegradation process is found to be intrinsically homogeneous at the nanometer scale.