Highly crystalline low-bandgap polymer nanowires towards high-performance thick-film organic solar cells exceeding 10% power conversion efficiency†
Preparing polymer nanowire (PNW) structures using donor–acceptor (D–A) conjugated polymers is one promising strategy to improve the power conversion efficiencies (PCEs) of bulk-heterojunction (BHJ) polymer solar cells (PSCs). Here, we report that a high PCE of 10.62% was obtained with a single-junction inverted cell with a 350 nm thick active layer containing highly crystalline PNWs based on a D–A conjugated polymer (P4TNTz-2F), which possesses a deep-lying HOMO level (−5.46 eV) and a low-bandgap (1.59 eV) as well as a planar/rigid backbone. The thick active layer in the P4TNTz-2F : PC71BM-based PSC absorbs incident light almost completely, which in turn contributes to a high short-circuit current density of 19.45 mA cm−2. This high PCE is attributed to the continuous and evenly distributed polymer network with narrow PNWs (≈6 nm in width and several hundred nanometers in length) in the thick film blended with PC71BM, which facilitates charge separation (QPL ≈ 98%) and transport (μh = 8.31 × 10−3 cm2 V−1 s−1). Moreover, this PNW structure in the BHJ active layer can be prepared using a facile film-forming process at a mild blending temperature (≈70 °C), which means that high efficiency BHJ PSCs can be fabricated with good reproducibility. These results demonstrate the great promise of polymer nanowire solar cells and provide important scientific insights that facilitate further improvements in the morphologies and performances of organic solar cells through material design and development.