The molecular weight of poly(3-hexylthiophene) is an important factor influencing the photovoltaic properties of bulk heterojunction organic solar cells based on this material. However, since different synthetic processes or repetitive soxhlet extractions – generally applied to obtain the different molecular weight batches under study – result in samples with simultaneously varying regioregularity (RR) and polydispersity index (PDI), it has not been possible yet to find an unambiguous correlation between the molecular weight and the photovoltaic performance. In the present work preparative gel permeation chromatography is introduced as a versatile technique to fractionate the donor polymer and thereby obtain a systematic variation of the number average molecular weight (M n =11–91kgmol −1 ) with an almost constant PDI and RR. Polymer crystallinity and conjugation length are evaluated by UV–Vis spectroscopy, rapid heat-cool calorimetry and selected area electron diffraction, and are found to be deeply affected by M n . This in turn influences the behavior of the charge transfer state energy, measured via Fourier transform photocurrent spectroscopy, and therefore the open-circuit voltage. The short-circuit current is also affected by M n , but mainly due to a change in absorption coefficient. The apparent recombination order is shown to be linked to the morphology of the polymer:fullerene blend and is determined using transient photovoltage and photocurrent techniques. Finally, a correlation between recombination and fill factor is also suggested.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.