Polymer solar cells: P3HT:PCBM and beyond

P. R. Berger, M. Kim

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    59 Citations (Scopus)


    For the last two decades, polymer solar cells (PSCs) have been a cynosure of the photovoltaic community, as evidenced by the growing number of patent applications and scientific publications. Efforts to achieve high power conversion efficiency in PSC, propelled by advances in device architecture, material combination, and nanomorphology control, evolved into poly(3-hexylthiophene-2,5-diyl) (P3HT):phenyl-C61-Butyric-Acid-Methyl Ester (PCBM) bulk heterojunction PSCs, which had been the best seller in PSC research for a decade. Subsequently, PSC research was redirected towards the synthesis of low bandgap materials and optimization of tandem cells, which led to a power conversion efficiency of ∼13%. Even though this efficiency may not be sufficient enough to compete with that of inorganic solar cells, unique properties of PSCs, such as mass roll-to-roll production capability, as well as flexibility and lightness, suggest their niche market opportunities. In this review, an overview of developments in PSCs is presented during the last three decades encompassing pre- and post-P3HT:PCBM era. Emphasis is given on evolution in device architecture, coupled with material selection for pre-P3HT:PCBM era, and synthesis of low-bandgap materials, coupled with a tandem structure for post-P3HT:PCBM era. Last but not least, efforts toward the longer operational lifetime of PSCs by encapsulation are reviewed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number013508
    JournalJournal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018
    Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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