Design of Transparent Conducting Electrodes and Surface Relief Gratings for Plasmonic Polymer Solar Cells
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As the concept of renewable energy becomes increasingly important in the modern society, a considerable amount of research has been conducted in the field of organic photovoltaics in recent years. Although organic solar cells generally have had lower efficiencies compared to silicon solar cells, they have the potential to be mass produced via solution processing. A common polymer solar cell architecture relies on the usage of P3HT (electron donor) and PCBM (electron acceptor) bulk heterojunction. One of the main issues with this configuration is that in order to compensate for the high exciton recombination rate, the photoactive layer is often made very thin (on the order of 100 $%). This results in low solar cell photocurrents due to low absorption. This thesis investigates a novel method of light trapping by coupling surface plasmons at the electrode interface via surface relief gratings, leading to EM field enhancements and increased photo absorption. Experimental work was first conducted on developing and optimizing a transparent electrode of the form &'()/+,/&'() to replace the traditional ITO electrode since the azopolymer gratings cannot withstand the high temperature processing of ITO films. It was determined that given the right thickness profiles and deposition conditions, the MAM stack can achieve transmittance and conductivity similar to ITO films. Experimental work was also conducted on the fabrication and characterization of surface relief gratings, as well as verification of the surface plasmon generation. Surface relief gratings were fabricated easily and accurately via laser interference lithography on photosensitive azopolymer films. Laser diffraction studies confirmed the grating pitch, which is dependent on the incident angle and wavelength of the writing beam. AFM experiments were conducted to determine the surface morphology of the gratings, before and after metallic film deposition. It was concluded that metallic film deposition does not significantly alter the grating morphologies.
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