Improved photostability in ternary blend organic solar cells: the role of PCBM†
Polymer solar cells are potentially key contributors to the next-generation organic photovoltaics for sustainable green sources of energy. In the past few years, ternary organic solar cells have emerged with promising characteristics. They have proven to yield high efficiency at about 15% for single junction donor:acceptor (D:A) solar cells. However, the low stability of organic solar cells is a hindrance to the commercialisation of this technology, and thus, needs more attention. Here, we show that with the right ratio of D : A1 : A2, ternary blend solar cells can be more efficient and more photostable than their D:A binary blend solar cells. We add PCBM to PBDB-T:ITIC and PTB7-Th:ITIC binary blend solar cells in various ratios to fabricate ternary solar cells. The ternary solar cells outperform all binary cells in terms of efficiency and photostability with only a 10% average loss in efficiency under continuous illumination irrespective of the device structure. We identify changes in the molecular structure of the active layer blends as the main reason behind the observed degradation behaviour of the solar cells. The ternary blends are the most resilient to photo-induced molecular structural changes. This finding suggests that ternary organic solar cells could be a way to achieve photostable devices.