Dipolar hole-blocking layers for inverted perovskite solar cells: Effects of aggregation and electron transport levels

Julian F. Butscher, Qing Sun, Yufeng Wu, Fabian Stuck, Marvin Hoffmann, Andreas Dreuw, Fabian Paulus, Stephen A.K. Hashmi, Nir Tessler, Yana Vaynzof

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Herein, we report on the synthesis and investigation of two triazino-isoquinoline tetrafluoroborate electrolytes as hole-blocking layers in methylammonium triiodide perovskite photovoltaic devices with fullerene electron extraction layer. We find that increasing the thickness of the dipolar hole-blocking layer results in a gradual increase in the open-circuit voltage suggesting that aggregation of the molecules can enhance the dipole induced by the layer. This finding is confirmed by theoretical calculations demonstrating that while both molecules exhibit a similar dipole moment in their isolated state, this dipole is significantly enhanced when they aggregate. Ultra-violet photoemission spectroscopy measurements show that both derivatives exhibit a high ionization potential of 7 eV, in agreement with their effective hole-blocking nature demonstrated by the devices. However, each of the molecules shows a different electron affinity due to the increased conjugation of one of the derivatives. While the change in electron transport level between the two derivatives is as high as 0.3 eV, the difference in the open-circuit voltage of both types of devices is negligible, suggesting that the electron transport level plays only a minor role in determining the open-circuit voltage of the device. Numerical device simulations confirm that the increase in built-in potential, arising from the high dipole of the electrolyte layer, compensates for the non-ideal energetic alignment of the charge transport levels, resulting in high open-circuit voltages for a range of electron transport levels. Our study demonstrates that the application of small molecule electrolytes as hole-blocking layer in inverted architecture perovskite solar cells is a powerful tool to enhance the open-circuit voltage and provides useful guidelines for designing future generations of such compounds.

Original languageEnglish
Article number025002
JournalJPhys Materials
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2020


  • Aggregation
  • Device simulation
  • Open-circuit voltage
  • Perovskite solar cells
  • Small molecule electrolytes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • General Materials Science


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