We study the effect of solvent-free annealing and explicit solvent evaporation protocols in classical molecular dynamics simulations on the interface properties of a blend of a diketopyrrolopyrrole (DPP) polymer with conjugated substituents (DPP2Py2T) and PCBM. We specifically analyze the intramolecular segmental mobility of the different polymer building blocks as well as intermolecular radial and angular distribution functions between donor and acceptor. The annealing simulations reveal an increase of the glass-transition temperature of 45 K in the polymer-fullerene blend compared to that of pure DPP2Py2T. Our results show that the effective solvent evaporation rates at room temperature only have a minor influence on the segmental mobility and intermolecular orientation, characterized in all cases by a preferential arrangement of PCBM close to the electron-donating substituents in DPP2Py2T. In contrast, solvent-free annealing from a liquid yields clustering of the fullerene close to the electron-withdrawing DPP, generally considered to be detrimental for application in organic solar cells. We find that the difference can be attributed to differences in the behavior of 2-hexyldecyl side-chains, which collapse toward DPP when solvent is explicitly removed, thereby blocking access of PCBM.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Funding for this work was provided by The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and The Netherlands eScience Center for funding through Project Number 027.017.G15, within the Joint CSER and eScience program for Energy Research (JCER 2017). B.B. also acknowledges support by the Innovational Research Incentives Scheme Vidi of the NWO, with Project Number 723.016.002.
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