Recent development of solution processable organic photovoltaic (OPV) cells has demonstrated efficiency over 17% for a single junction device. Such a high efficiency as well as its famous properties of light weight and high mechanical flexibility can realize an ultrahigh specific power and a very small stowed volume, which are key consideration when choosing PV for space missions. To take one step forward, their hardness to ionizing radiation should be well studied. Herein, the influence of 150 keV protons on the performance of OPV cells was explored under AM0 illumination. A series of proton fluences was applied to the selected OPV cells. Device performance drop to approximately 60% at 10^12 p/cm2 and 10% at 10^13 p/cm2. At higher fluences, 10^14 p/cm2 and 10^15 p/cm2, efficiency drop to almost zero. By redissolving the proton irradiated devices, the solubility of the bulk heterojunction blend is found to decrease with the proton fluence, which is suspected that crosslinking happens under present of high energy proton. The crosslinking involves both the polymer donor and the fullerene acceptor. Although the OPV performance drops substantially after exposure to high energy proton, the retaining performance is indeed higher than the currently dominating PV used in the space, GaAs, under similar testing conditions. This encouraging result in addition to the deeper understanding of the active layer degradation, OPV cell should be a potential candidate for space use in the future.
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