Nonequilibrium charge dynamics in organic solar cells

Ian A. Howard*, Fabian Etzold, Frédéric Laquai, Martijn Kemerink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


The dynamics of charge carriers after their creation at, or near, an interface play a critical role in determining the efficiency of organic solar cells as they dictate, via mechanisms that are not yet fully understood, the pathways for charge separation and recombination. Here, a combination of ultrafast transient spectroscopy and kinetic Monte Carlo simulations based on a minimalistic model are used to examine various aspects of these charge dynamics in a typical donor-acceptor copolymer:methanofullerene blend. The observed rates of charge carrier energetic relaxation and recombination for a sequence of charge densities can be all consistently described in terms of the extended Gaussian disorder model. The physical picture that arises is a) that initial charge motion is highly diffusive and boosted by energetic relaxation in the disordered density of states and b) that mobile charge carriers dissociate from and re-associate into Coulombically associated pairs faster than they recombine, especially at early times. A simple analytical calculation confirms this picture and can be used to identify sub-Langevin recombination as the cause for quantitative deviations between the Monte Carlo calculations and the measured concentration dependence of the charge recombination. Nonequilibrium charge carrier dynamics play a decisive role in organic solar cell function. Multidimensional transient spectroscopic data are examined here through the lens of kinetic Monte Carlo simulations based on a minimalistic extended Gaussian disorder model. This provides important insights into the fundamental physical origins of the device-relevant nonequilibrium dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1301743
JournalAdvanced Energy Materials
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jun 24 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • charge separation
  • kinetic Monte Carlo simulations
  • organic solar cells
  • transient absorption

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Materials Science


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