The study of alternative energy sources is important to fighting climate change by reducing our dependence on burning of fossil fuels. Solar power is of interest because of the immense power radiated by the sun. Organic Photovoltaic (OPV) devices offer the ability to produce cheaper solar power but are challenged by low device efficiencies. In this study we work with devices made from squaraines (SQ) and a common functionalized fullerene (PCBM). We conduct a Design of Experiments (DOE) to determine what manufacturing parameters are affecting device efficiencies. By conducting a DOE, we also gain the ability to determine if there are significant interactions between parameters that are affecting device efficiencies. The parameters chosen (and levels) for investigation were the blend ratio (SQ:PCBM of 3:7 and 1:3), solvent additive (Tetrahydrofuran (THF) and Dimethyl Acetamide (DMA)), concentration of casting solution (12mg/mL and 16mg/mL), spin speed (1200rpm and 1600rpm), annealing time (5mins and 15mins), and annealing temperature (90°C and 120°C). Chloroform served as the main solvent in an 85:15 volume ratio with the additive. Despite an incomplete data set, we were able to determine that the solvent additive (sometimes referred to as a co-solvent) significantly affects device performance: none of the devices made with DMA worked. The cause of this appears to be to have been significant phase separation of our squaraine electron donor and functionalized fullerene acceptor. This paper also critiques the use of DOEs as a research technique and advocates for their use in OPVs because they provide a rigorous and robust methodology for the study of OPVs while also screening variables and interactions for which ones will drive predictive models of device performance, and moving us toward processes that are robust enough to be scaled up when it is becomes time to bring OPVs to market

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Photovoltaic power systems--Design and construction; Organic semiconductors--Design and construction; Organic compounds--Electric properties; Experimental design

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Mechanical Engineering (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Mechanical Engineering (KGCOE)


Christopher J. Collison

Advisor/Committee Member

Rob Stevens

Advisor/Committee Member

Scott Williams


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes