Simplified charge separation energetics in a two-dimensional model for polymer-based photovoltaic cells

Kristian O. Sylvester-Hvid*, Mark A. Ratner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


An extension of our two-dimensional working model for photovoltaic behavior in binary polymer and/or molecular photoactive blends is presented. The objective is to provide a more-realistic description of the charge generation and charge separation processes in the blend system. This is achieved by assigning an energy to each of the possible occupation states, describing the system according to a simple energy model for exciton and geminate electron-hole pair configurations. The energy model takes as primary input the ionization potential, electron affinity and optical gap of the components of the blend. The underlying photovoltaic model considers a nanoscopic subvolume of a photoactive blend and represents its p- and n-type domain morphology, in terms of a two-dimensional network of donor and acceptor sites. The nearest-neighbor hopping of charge carriers in the illuminated system is described in terms of transitions between different occupation states. The equations governing the dynamics of these states are cast into a linear master equation, which can be solved for arbitrary two-dimensional donor-acceptor networks, assuming stationary conditions. The implications of incorporating the energy model into the photovoltaic model are illustrated by simulations of the short circuit current versus thickness of the photoactive blend layer for different choices of energy parameters and donor-acceptor topology. The results suggest the existence of an optimal thickness of the photoactive film in bulk heterojunctions, based on kinetic considerations alone, and that this optimal thickness is very sensitive to the choice of energy parameters. The results also indicate space-charge limiting effects for interpenetrating donor-acceptor networks with characteristic domain sizes in the nanometer range and high driving force for the photoinduced electron transfer across the donor-acceptor internal interface.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)200-208
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 13 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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