Modifying the organic/electrode interface in Organic Solar Cells (OSCs) and improving the efficiency of solution-processed phosphorescent Organic Light-Emitting Diodes (OLEDs)

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Xiao, Teng
Major Professor
Joseph Shinar
Ruth Shinar
Committee Member
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Physics and Astronomy
Physics and astronomy are basic natural sciences which attempt to describe and provide an understanding of both our world and our universe. Physics serves as the underpinning of many different disciplines including the other natural sciences and technological areas.
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Organic semiconductors devices, such as, organic solar cells (OSCs), organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) and organic field-effect transistors (OFETs) have drawn increasing interest in recent decades. As organic materials are flexible, light weight, and potentially low-cost, organic semiconductor devices are considered to be an alternative to their inorganic counterparts. This dissertation will focus mainly on OSCs and OLEDs.

As a clean and renewable energy source, the development of OSCs is very promising. Cells with 9.2% power conversion efficiency (PCE) were reported this year, compared to < 8% two years ago. OSCs belong to the so-called third generation solar cells and are still under development. While OLEDs are a more mature and better studied field, with commercial products already launched in the market, there are still several key issues: (1) the cost of OSCs/OLEDs is still high, largely due to the costly manufacturing processes; (2) the efficiency of OSCs/OLEDs needs to be improved; (3) the lifetime of OSCs/OLEDs is not sufficient compared to their inorganic counterparts; (4) the physics models of the behavior of the devices are not satisfactory. All these limitations invoke the demand for new organic materials, improved device architectures, low-cost fabrication methods, and better understanding of device physics.

For OSCs, we attempted to improve the PCE by modifying the interlayer between active layer/metal. We found that ethylene glycol (EG) treated poly(3,4-ethylenedioxy-thiophene):polystyrenesulfonate (PEDOT: PSS) improves hole collection at the metal/polymer interface, furthermore it also affects the growth of the poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT):phenyl-C61-butyric acid methyl ester (PCBM) blends, making the phase segregation more favorable for charge collection. We then studied organic/inorganic tandem cells. We also investigated the effect of a thin LiF layer on the hole-collection of copper phthalocyanine (CuPc)/C70-based small molecular OSCs. A thin LiF layer serves typically as the electron injection layer in OLEDs and electron collection interlayer in the OSCs. However, several reports showed that it can also assist in hole-injection in OLEDs. Here we first demonstrate that it assists hole-collection in OSCs, which is more obvious after air-plasma treatment, and explore this intriguing dual role.

For OLEDs, we focus on solution processing methods to fabricate highly efficient phosphorescent OLEDs. First, we investigated OLEDs with a polymer host matrix, and enhanced charge injection by adding hole- and electron-transport materials into the system. We also applied a hole-blocking and electron-transport material to prevent luminescence quenching by the cathode. Finally, we substituted the polymer host by a small molecule, to achieve more efficient solution processed small molecular OLEDs (SMOLEDs); this approach is cost-effective in comparison to the more common vacuum thermal evaporation.

All these studies help us to better understand the underlying relationship between the organic semiconductor materials and the OSCs and OLEDs' performance and will subsequently assist in further enhancing the efficiencies of OSCs and OLEDs. With better efficiency and longer lifetime, the OSCs and OLEDs will be competitive with their inorganic counterparts.

Sun Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2012