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Nanoscale Domain Imaging of All-Polymer Organic Solar Cells by Photo-Induced Force Microscopy

Gu, KL., Zhou, Y., Morrison, WA., Park, K., Park, S., Bao, Z.
ACS Nano


Rapid nanoscale imaging of the bulk heterojunction layer in organic solar cells is essential to the continued development of high-performance devices. Unfortunately, commonly used imaging techniques such as tunneling electron microscopy (TEM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM) suffer from significant drawbacks. For instance, assuming domain identity from phase contrast or topographical features can lead to inaccurate morphological conclusions. Here we demonstrate a technique known as photo-induced force microscopy (PiFM) for imaging organic solar cell bulk heterojunctions with nanoscale chemical specificity. PiFM is a relatively recent scanning probe microscopy technique that combines an AFM tip with a tunable infrared laser to induce a dipole for chemical imaging. Coupling the nanometer resolution of AFM with the chemical specificity of a tuned IR laser, we are able to spatially map the donor and acceptor domains in a model all-polymer bulk heterojunction with resolution approaching 10 nm. Domain size from PiFM images is compared to bulk-averaged results from resonant soft X-ray scattering, indicating excellent quantitative agreement. Further, we demonstrate that in our all-polymer system, the AFM topography, AFM phase, and PiFM show poor correlation, highlighting the need to move beyond standard AFM for morphology characterization of bulk heterojunctions.

DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.7b07865