Reducing hole transporter use and increasing perovskite solar cell stability with dual-role polystyrene microgel particles
Perovskite solar cells (PSCs) are a disruptive technology that continues to attract considerable attention due to their remarkable and sustained power conversion efficiency increase. Improving PSC stability and reducing expensive hole transport material (HTM) usage are two aspects that are gaining increased attention. In a new approach, we investigate the ability of insulating polystyrene microgel particles (MGs) to increase PSC stability and replace the majority of the HTM phase. MGs are sub-micrometre crosslinked polymer particles that swell in a good solvent. The MGs were prepared using a scalable emulsion polymerisation method. Mixed HTM/MG dispersions were subsequently spin-coated onto PSCs and formed composite HTM-MG layers. The HTMs employed were poly(triaryl amine) (PTAA), poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) and Spiro-MeOTAD (Spiro). The MGs formed mechanically robust composite HTMs with PTAA and P3HT. In contrast, Spiro-MG composites contained micro-cracks due the inability of the relatively small Spiro molecules to interdigitate. The efficiencies for the PSCs containing PTAA-MG and P3HT-MG decreased by only ∼20% compared to control PSCs despite PTAA and P3HT being the minority phases. They occupied only ∼35 vol% of the composite HTMs. An unexpected finding from the study was that the MGs dispersed well within the PTAA matrix. This morphology aided strong quenching of the CH3NH3PbI3−xClx fluorescence. In addition, the open circuit voltages for the PSCs prepared using P3HT-MG increased by ∼170 mV compared to control PSCs. To demonstrate their versatility the MGs were also used to encapsulate P3HT-based PSCs. Solar cell stability data for the latter as well as those for PSCs containing composite HTM-MG were both far superior compared to data measured for a control PSC. Since MGs can reduce conjugated polymer use and increase stability they have good potential as dual-role PSC additives.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Editor’s Choice: Perovskite Nanomaterials and Devices