Molecular Level Understanding of Interfaces and Excited State Electronic Structure in Organic Solar Cells Using Soft X-ray Techniques
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Transparent conductive oxides like indium tin oxide (ITO) are common substrates for optoelectronic devices, including organic light emitting diodes and organic solar cells. Tailoring the interface between the oxide and the active layer by adjusting the work function or wettability of the oxide can improve the performance of these devices in both emissive and photovoltaic applications. Molecular design of self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) allows for a range of surface properties using the same oxide material. The molecular ordering and conformation adopted by the SAMs determine properties such as work function and wettability at these critical interfaces. I use angle-dependent near edge x-ray absorption fine structure (NEXAFS) spectroscopy, to determine the molecular orientations of a variety of dipolar phosphonic acid surface modifiers. For a model system, phenylphosphonic acid on indium zinc oxide, the SAMs prove to be surprisingly well-oriented, with the phenyl ring adopting a well-defined tilt angle of 12-16° from the surface normal. The NEXAFS results agree with polarization modulation infrared reflection absorption spectroscopy (PM-IRRAS) results and orientations calculated from density functional theory (DFT). These results not only provide a detailed picture of the molecular structure of a technologically important class of SAMs, but they also resolve a long-standing ambiguity regarding the vibrational-mode assignments for phosphonic acids on oxide surfaces, thus improving the utility of PM-IRRAS for future studies. The effect of fluorination on the orientation of these phosponic-acid SAMs is non-trivial, due to the combined effects of the fluorination on binding mode and steric packing. The latter effects are found to be more dominant in aliphatic SAMs, leading to a more upright orientation in the fluorinated SAM. In the aromatic case, the fluorinated SAM adopted a less upright orientation which I attribute to changes in binding mode. The relationship between structure and performance in active layer polymers for organic electronics is not yet well understood. To gain insight into the effect of the excited state electronic structure on device performance, we examine two similar donor-acceptor polymers: PCPDTBT and PCDTBT, which produce devices with internal quantum efficiency (IQE) of 70% and 100% respectively. We use time-dependent density functional theory (TD-DFT) in combination with near edge x-ray absorption fine structure (NEXAFS) and resonant Auger spectroscopy to predict the electronic structure of the lowest unoccupied molecular orbital (LUMO). The resonant Auger results are found to be independent of film morphology and likely dominated by monomer structure. We show that the degree of LUMO localization onto the benzothiadiazole acceptor group in each polymer is similar, indicating that that the differences in IQE between these two polymers are driven by larger-scale morphology and not explained by the electronic structure of the excited state.
- Physics