Diketopyrrolopyrrole polymers for organic solar cells

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Abstract

Conspectus
Conjugated polymers have been extensively studied for application in organic solar cells. In designing new polymers, particular attention has been given to tuning the absorption spectrum, molecular energy levels, crystallinity, and charge carrier mobility to enhance performance. As a result, the power conversion efficiencies (PCEs) of solar cells based on conjugated polymers as electron donor and fullerene derivatives as electron acceptor have exceeded 10% in single-junction and 11% in multijunction devices. Despite these efforts, it is notoriously difficult to establish thorough structure–property relationships that will be required to further optimize existing high-performance polymers to their intrinsic limits.
In this Account, we highlight progress on the development and our understanding of diketopyrrolopyrrole (DPP) based conjugated polymers for polymer solar cells. The DPP moiety is strongly electron withdrawing and its polar nature enhances the tendency of DPP-based polymers to crystallize. As a result, DPP-based conjugated polymers often exhibit an advantageously broad and tunable optical absorption, up to 1000 nm, and high mobilities for holes and electrons, which can result in high photocurrents and good fill factors in solar cells. Here we focus on the structural modifications applied to DPP polymers and rationalize and explain the relationships between chemical structure and organic photovoltaic performance. The DPP polymers can be tuned via their aromatic substituents, their alkyl side chains, and the nature of the π-conjugated segment linking the units along the polymer chain. We show that these building blocks work together in determining the molecular conformation, the optical properties, the charge carrier mobility, and the solubility of the polymer. We identify the latter as a decisive parameter for DPP-based organic solar cells because it regulates the diameter of the semicrystalline DPP polymer fibers that form in the photovoltaic blends with fullerenes via solution processing. The width of these fibers and the photon energy loss, defined as the energy difference between optical band gap and open-circuit voltage, together govern to a large extent the quantum efficiency for charge generation in these blends and thereby the power conversion efficiency of the photovoltaic devices. Lowering the photon energy loss and maintaining a high quantum yield for charge generation is identified as a major pathway to enhance the performance of organic solar cells. This can be achieved by controlling the structural purity of the materials and further control over morphology formation. We hope that this Account contributes to improved design strategies of DPP polymers that are required to realize new breakthroughs in organic solar cell performance in the future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-85
JournalAccounts of Chemical Research
Volume49
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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