Emulsion-Based RIR-MAPLE Deposition of Conjugated Polymers: Primary Solvent Effect and Its Implications on Organic Solar Cell Performance.


Emulsion-based, resonant infrared matrix-assisted pulsed laser evaporation (RIR-MAPLE) has been demonstrated as an alternative technique to deposit conjugated polymer films for photovoltaic applications; yet, a fundamental understanding of how the emulsion target characteristics translate into film properties and solar cell performance is unclear. Such understanding is crucial to enable the rational improvement of organic solar cell (OSC) efficiency and to realize the expected advantages of emulsion-based RIR-MAPLE for OSC fabrication. In this paper, the effect of the primary solvent used in the emulsion target is studied, both experimentally and theoretically, and it is found to determine the conjugated polymer cluster size in the emulsion as well as surface roughness and internal morphology of resulting polymer films. By using a primary solvent with low solubility-in-water and low vapor pressure, the surface roughness of deposited P3HT and PCPDTBT polymer films was reduced to 10 nm, and the efficiency of P3HT:PC61BM OSCs was increased to 3.2% (∼100 times higher compared to the first MAPLE OSC demonstration [ Caricato , A. P. ; Appl. Phys. Lett. 2012 , 100 , 073306 ]). This work unveils the mechanism of polymer film formation using emulsion-based RIR-MAPLE and provides insight and direction to determine the best ways to take advantage of the emulsion target approach to control film properties for different applications.