Temperature dependence of the spectral line-width of charge-transfer state emission in organic solar cells; static vs. dynamic disorder†
The origin of energetic disorder in organic semiconductors and its impact on opto-electronic properties remains a topic of intense controversy. Particularly the disorder at electron donor–acceptor interfaces for organic photovoltaics is pivotal to understand as it is expected to affect photo-carrier generation, recombination and consequently device efficiency parameters. In this work we evaluate the temperature dependence of the line-shape of the photoluminescence (PL) and electroluminescence (EL) spectra of small molecule:fullerene blend devices, with the ambition to disentangle dynamic and static disorder contributions. The EL emission spectra are dominated by charge-transfer (CT) state emission and are confirmed to be of Gaussian character and almost completely voltage independent. More importantly, a strong line-width narrowing is persistently observed upon cooling, down to a certain material specific low temperature, below which the line-width remains constant. It is consequently clear that the main portion of the line-width measured at operating conditions of room temperature or higher, is originating from thermally activated, or dynamic, disorder. The observed temperature dependence of the high-energy emission tail can be fully described by taking into account high and low frequency molecular vibrational modes, without having to rely on static disorder. The presence of low frequency molecular modes with large Huang–Rhys factors results in a Gaussian line-shape, which is additionally broadened at high temperature by thermal population of high frequency intra-molecular modes. We therefore cast strong doubts regarding the commonly used assumption that single temperature optical measurements of absorption or emission tails are able to provide meaningful information regarding the shape of a static density of states tail.