Impact of the donor polymer on recombination via triplet excitons in a fullerene-free organic solar cell†
The greater chemical tunability of non-fullerene acceptors enables fine-tuning of the donor–acceptor energy level offsets, a promising strategy towards increasing the open-circuit voltage in organic solar cells. Unfortunately, this approach could open an additional recombination channel for the charge-transfer (CT) state via a lower-lying donor or acceptor triplet level. In this work we investigate such electron and hole back-transfer mechanisms in fullerene-free solar cells incorporating the novel molecular acceptor 2,4-diCN-Ph-DTTzTz. The transition to the low-driving force regime is studied by comparing blends with well-established donor polymers P3HT and MDMO-PPV, which allows for variation of the energetic offsets at the donor–acceptor interface. Combining various optical spectroscopic techniques, the CT process and subsequent triplet formation are systematically investigated. Although both back-transfer mechanisms are found to be energetically feasible in both blends, markedly different triplet-mediated recombination processes are observed for the two systems. The kinetic suppression of electron back-transfer in the blend with P3HT suggests that energy losses due to triplet formation on the polymer can be avoided, regardless of favorable energetic alignment.