Bulk Heterojunction (BHJ) solar cells have reached Power Conversion Efficiencies (PCE) over 10% but to be a competitive product long lifetimes are mandatory. In this view, guidelines for the prediction and optimization of the device stability are crucial to generate improved materials for efficient and stable BHJ devices. For encapsulated cells, degradation mechanisms can be mainly ascribed to external agents such as light and temperature. In particular, thermal degradation appears to be related not only to the BHJ morphology but also to the adjacent interfaces. Therefore, in order to have a complete description of the thermal stability of a BHJ cell, it is necessary to consider the entire stack degradation processes by using techniques enabling a direct investigation on working devices.
Here, five different donor polymers were selected and the OPV performance of the corresponding BHJ devices were monitored during the thermal degradation at 85°C, showing an exponential decay of the corresponding PCEs. In parallel, we measured the geometrical capacitance of analogous OPV devices as a function of temperature and we observed that at a defined temperature (TMAX), typical for each polymer-based device, the capacitance starts to decrease. Combining all these results we found an evident and direct correlation between TMAX and the PCE decay parameters (obtained from capacitance-temperature an thermal measurements, respectively). This implies that the capacitance-method here presented is a fast, reliable and relatively simple method to predict the thermal stability of BHJ solar cells without the need to perform time-consuming thermal degradation tests.