The electron donor-acceptor (D-A) interface is an essential component for realizing efficient exciton dissociation and charge generation in organic photovoltaic cells (OPVs). It can also however enable rapid charge recombination due to the close spatial proximity of electrons and holes. To frustrate recombination losses, attempts have been made to separate charge carriers by introducing an insulating blocking interlayer at the D-A interface. It is challenging to realize increased efficiency using this approach as the relative similarity of interlayer optical and transport energy gaps may also frustrate exciton harvesting and charge generation. To overcome this trade-off, the interlayer must block charge carriers while continuing to permit exciton migration to the dissociating interface. In this work, we demonstrate this configuration in archetypical copper phthalocyanine (CuPc)-C60 planar OPVs containing a rubrene interlayer to frustrate charge recombination. Critically, the similarity in triplet exciton energy levels between rubrene and CuPc allows the interlayer to be permeable to excitons. Devices containing an interlayer show a reduction in the charge transfer state binding energy and non-geminate recombination rate with increasing interlayer thickness. For thin interlayers, geminate recombination is also suppressed. Thus, devices containing an exciton permeable interlayer show a simultaneous increase in open-circuit voltage, short-circuit current, and power efficiency.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Electronics, Photonics and Magnetic Devices under ECCS-1509121 and NSF Solid State and Materials Chemistry under DMR-1708177. The authors acknowledge the research group of Professor C. D. Frisbie for use of their atomic force microscope.