Background: The active layer not only must have a strong light absorption in the visible spectrum, but must also be sufficient for charge carrier transport to the electrodes. Electrons in conducting polymer transport by hopping between different energy levels, resulted in much lower charge mobility. Therefore, the thickness of active layer must be limited so the separated charge can reach the corresponding electrodes without recombination. However, thin active layer has weaker light absorption, resulting in the low photogenerated current in organic solar cell devices. Furthermore, buffer layers usually have high charge mobility, which in turn would enhance the transportation of charge from the active layer to electrodes. Metal oxides have been studied to be used as cathode buffer layer such as titanium dioxide (TiO2), zinc oxide (ZnO), etc.
Objective: In this work, behaviors of the photon-electrical characteristics with variation in thickness of the active (poly(3-hexylthiophene-2,5-diyl) and phenyl-C61 butyric acid methyl ester blend) and buffer (zinc oxide) layers were investigated.
Method: The influences of the thickness of the active and buffer layers on characteristic parameters of organic solar cells were investigated by solving the drift and diffusion equation with the photogenerated current given by Hetch equation.
Results: The optimum thickness was obtained around 100 nm and below 10 nm for the active and the ZnO buffer layers, respectively.
Conclusion: Thinner active layer resulted in lower photocurrent due to poor light absorption while at 150 nm thick and above, PCE of the device reduced rapidly because of high recombination rate of photogenerated electron-hole pairs. ZnO buffer layer was used as an electron transport layer and a hole blocking layer in order to improve the cell’s performance. The addition of ZnO enhanced the PCE up to 2.48 times higher than conventional device.