Solvent-based thin-film deposition constitutes a popular class of fabrication strategies for manufacturing organic electronic devices like organic solar cells. All such solvent-based techniques usually involve preparing dilute blends of electron-donor and electron-acceptor materials dissolved in a volatile solvent. After some form of coating onto a substrate to form a thin film, the solvent evaporates. An initially homogeneous mixture separates into electron-acceptor rich and electron-donor rich regions as the solvent evaporates. Depending on the specifics of the blend, processing conditions, and substrate characteristics different morphologies are typically formed. Experimental evidence consistently confirms that the resultant morphology critically affects device performance. A computational framework that can predict morphology evolution can significantly augment experimental analysis. Such a framework will also allow high throughput analysis of the large phase space of processing parameters, thus yielding considerable insight into the process–structure–property relationships governing organic solar cell behavior.
In this paper, we formulate a computational framework to predict evolution of morphology during solvent-based fabrication of organic thin films. This is accomplished by developing a phase field-based model of evaporation-induced and substrate-induced phase-separation in ternary systems. This formulation allows most of the important physical phenomena affecting morphology evolution during fabrication to be naturally incorporated. We discuss the various numerical and computational challenges associated with a three dimensional, finite-element based, massively parallel implementation of this framework. This formulation allows, for the first time, to model three-dimensional nanomorphology evolution over large time spans on device scale domains. We illustrate this framework by investigating and quantifying the effect of various process and system variables on morphology evolution. We explore ways to control the morphology evolution by investigating different evaporation rates, blend ratios and interaction parameters between components.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/baskar-ganapathysubramanian/28/