Publication Details (including relevant citation information):
We report the design, fabrication, and characterization of colloidal PbSe nanocrystal (NC)-based photovoltaic test structures that exhibit an excitonic solar cell mechanism. Charge extraction from the NC active layer is driven by a photoinduced chemical potential energy gradient at the nanostructured heterojunction. By minimizing perturbation to PbSe NC energy levels and thereby gaining insight into the “intrinsic” photovoltaic properties and charge transfer mechanism of PbSe NC, we show a direct correlation between interfacial energy level offsets and photovoltaic device performance. Size dependent PbSe NC energy levels were determined by cyclic voltammetry and optical spectroscopy and correlated to photovoltaic measurements. Photovoltaic test structures were fabricated from PbSe NC films sandwiched between layers of ZnO nanoparticles and PEDOT:PSS as electron and hole transporting elements, respectively. The device current−voltage characteristics suggest a charge separation mechanism that is distinct from previously reported Schottky devices and consistent with signatures of excitonic solar cells. Remarkably, despite the limitation of planar junction structure, and without film thickness optimization, the best performing device shows a 1-sun power conversion efficiency of 3.4%, ranking among the highest performing NC-based solar cells reported to date.