Atomic-scale interfacial band mapping across vertically phased-separated polymer/fullerene hybrid solar cells

Min Chuan Shih, Bo Chao Huang, Chih Cheng Lin, Shao Sian Li, Hsin An Chen, Ya Ping Chiu*, Chun Wei Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


Using cross-sectional scanning tunneling microscope (XSTM) with samples cleaved in situ in an ultrahigh vacuum chamber, this study demonstrates the direct visualization of high-resolution interfacial band mapping images across the film thickness in an optimized bulk heterojunction polymer solar cell consisting of nanoscale phase segregated blends of poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) and [6,6]-phenyl C61 butyric acid methyl ester (PCBM). We were able to achieve the direct observation of the interfacial band alignments at the donor (P3HT)-acceptor (PCBM) interfaces and at the interfaces between the photoactive P3HT:PCBM blends and the poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) poly(styrenesulfonate) (PEDOT:PSS) anode modification layer with an atomic-scale spatial resolution. The unique advantage of using XSTM to characterize polymer/fullerene bulk heterojunction solar cells allows us to explore simultaneously the quantitative link between the vertical morphologies and their corresponding local electronic properties. This provides an atomic insight of interfacial band alignments between the two opposite electrodes, which will be crucial for improving the efficiencies of the charge generation, transport, and collection and the corresponding device performance of polymer solar cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2387-2392
Number of pages6
JournalNano Letters
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Jun 12
Externally publishedYes


  • Polymer/fullerene hybrid solar cells
  • band mapping
  • bulk heterojunction
  • interface
  • scanning tunneling spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering


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