Research Paper

Journal of Nanoparticle Research

, Volume 13, Issue 12, pp 6537-6544

First online:

Hybrid polymer-CdS solar cell active layers formed by in situ growth of CdS nanoparticles

  • S. MasalaAffiliated withENEA Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development
  • , S. Del GobboAffiliated withDepartment of Physics, University of Rome Tor Vergata
  • , C. BorrielloAffiliated withENEA Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development
  • , V. BizzarroAffiliated withIMAST Portici, Piazzale E. Fermi
  • , V. La FerraraAffiliated withENEA Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development
  • , M. ReAffiliated withENEA Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development
  • , E. PesceAffiliated withENEA Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development
  • , C. MinariniAffiliated withENEA Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development
  • , M. De CrescenziAffiliated withDepartment of Physics, University of Rome Tor Vergata
    • , T. Di LuccioAffiliated withENEA Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development Email author 

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Abstract

The integration of semiconductor nanoparticles (NPs) into a polymeric matrix has the potential to enhance the performance of polymer-based solar cells taking advantage of the physical properties of NPs and polymers. We synthesize a new class of CdS-NPs-based active layer employing a low-cost and low temperature route compatible with large-scale device manufacturing. Our approach is based on the controlled in situ thermal decomposition of a cadmium thiolate precursor in poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT). The casted P3HT:precursor solid foils were heated up from 200 to 300 °C to allow the precursor decomposition and the CdS-NP formation within the polymer matrix. The CdS-NP growth was controlled by varying the annealing temperature. The polymer:precursor weight ratio was also varied to investigate the effects of increasing the NP volume fraction on the solar cell performances. The optical properties were studied by using UV–Vis absorption and photoluminescence (PL) spectroscopy at room temperature. To investigate the photocurrent response of P3HT:CdS nanocomposites, ITO/P3HT:CdS/Al solar cell devices were realized. We measured the external quantum efficiency (EQE) as a function of the wavelength. The photovoltaic response of the devices containing CdS-NPs showed a variation compared with the devices with P3HT only. By changing the annealing temperature the EQE is enhanced in the 400–600 nm spectral region. By increasing the NPs volume fraction remarkable changes in the EQE spectra were observed. The data are discussed also in relation to morphological features of the interfaces studied by Focused Ion Beam technique.

Keywords

CdS nanoparticles P3HT Nanocomposites Polymer solar cells Energy conversion