A polaron is a charge, i.e., an electron or a hole, plus a distortion of the charge’s surroundings. In a crystalline inorganic material, setting a charge onto a site does not change the surroundings, as the crystal lattice is rigid. Not so in many disordered organic materials. Putting a charge onto a certain molecular site can deform the whole molecule. Moving the charge from this to another molecule means that first the energy for the deformation – the polaron binding energy or reorganisation energy – has to be mustered. The implication is that charge transport becomes more difficult, the charge carrier mobility becomes lower, … This process is also described as self-trapping. As a side note, it is often difficult to distinguish between the influence of polaronic self-trapping and of gaussian disorder, as both have a similar impact on the charge transport properties. This similarity is also reflected in the corresponding hopping rates used to calculate charge transport: Marcus theory is a function of the reorganisation energy, where as the Miller Abrahams rate [Miller 1960] is related to the energetic disorder of the density of states. The polaronic deformation can be quantified in terms of a (lattice) polarisation, or a phonon cloud, or just as the above-mentioned polaron binding energy. Mostly, however, when hearing polaron, think charge;-) See also what wikipedia has to say about polarons.
Recombination of free charge carriers in materials with a low mobility is often described with the Langevin recombination rate [Langevin 1903 (Ann. Chim. Phys. 28, 433)] (Update 3.12.2008: wrong reference previously, sorry.) Generally, if electron and holes – being potential recombination partners – wish to recombine, the effective recombination rate is proportional to
- the “direct” recombination rate
- finding each other
In high mobility semiconductors, the former is dominant. However, in disordered solids, and particularly disordered organic semiconductors, the low mobility limits the effective recombination rate. The process of finding each other can be described as diffusion limited, which is proportional to the charge carrier mobility when considering the Einstein relation. Continue reading “Recombination in low mobility semiconductors: Langevin theory”