In view of a rapid development and increase in efficiency of organic solar cells, reaching their long-term operational stability represents now one of the main challenges to be addressed on the way toward commercialization of this photovoltaic technology. However, intrinsic degradation pathways occurring in organic solar cells under realistic operational conditions remain poorly understood. The light-induced dimerization of the fullerene-based acceptor materials discovered recently is considered to be one of the main causes for burn-in degradation of organic solar cells. In this work, it is shown that not only the fullerene derivatives but also different types of conjugated polymers and small molecules undergo similar light-induced crosslinking regardless of their chemical composition and structure. In the case of conjugated polymers, crosslinking of macromolecules leads to a rapid increase in their molecular weight and consequent loss of solubility, which can be revealed in a straightforward way by gel permeation chromatography analysis via a reduction/loss of signal and/or smaller retention times. Results of this work, thus, shift the paradigm of research in the field toward designing a new generation of organic absorbers with enhanced intrinsic photochemical stability in order to reach practically useful operation lifetimes required for successful commercialization of organic photovoltaics.
- conjugated polymers
- gel-permeation chromatography
- light-induced degradation