Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Garry Rumbles

Second Advisor

Sean Shaheen

Third Advisor

Niels Damrauer

Fourth Advisor

Ralph Jimenez

Fifth Advisor

David Walba

Abstract

Understanding the nature of molecular exciton states is critical for the design of organic photovoltaic materials that push current device efficiencies into the next realm. This thesis describes several research projects that have sought to further our understanding of the generation and recombination of charge carriers, facilitated by such excitonic states, in organic systems. We begin with fundamental studies on the excited-state dynamics of several fullerene derivatives. We also venture away from the traditional fullerene-based electron acceptors and consider several derivatized perylene diimides as alternate electron acceptors. We then report on the observation of a broad, structureless, emission emanating from charge-generating films comprised of perfluoroalkyl fullerene derivatives dilutely dispersed in polyfluorene hosts. We have determined that this red-shifted PL signature is the result of radiative recombination from a charge-transfer state that is populated initially as a precursor to charge generation, and may be repopulated upon charge recombination. Our data offers an observable link between charge-generation and charge-transfer emission that is kinetically associated with carrier recombination, and we utilize this link to probe the influence of driving force and polymer microstructure in the fundamental processes of charge generation and decay in small molecule/polymer heterojunctions. Thereafter, we sought to develop our understanding of a novel photophysical mechanism (known as energy pooling) which would allow for the energy of multiple excitons to be ‘pooled’ towards a central molecular moiety, where the individual exciton energies may add together to create a single highly excited excitonic state. This upconversion-like process would facilitate more efficient photocurrent generation in devices utilizing this mode of charge separation. The primary modes of inquiry utilized in this work come from the spectroscopic techniques of absorbance, steady-state and time-resolved photoluminescence, transient absorption and time-resolved microwave conductivity. Some secondary methods employed include cyclic voltammetry, X-ray diffraction and computational tools from density functional theory. This utilization of both experimental and theoretical methodologies provides a powerful approach to furthering our understanding of both the fundamental photophysics of the systems studied, as well as the charge generation and recombination pathways occurring at organic donor-acceptor interfaces, helping to guide the design of more efficient organic photovoltaics.

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