By analyzing the optical band gap and energy levels of seven different regioregular terpolymers in which two different electron-rich donor moieties are alternating with a common electron-deficient acceptor unit along the backbone, we establish a direct correlation with the properties of the corresponding binary copolymers in which one donor and one acceptor are combined. For this study, we use diketopyrrolopyrrole as the common acceptor and different π-conjugated aromatic oligomers as donors. We find that the optical band gap and frontier orbital energies of the terpolymers are the arithmetic average of those of the parent copolymers with remarkable accuracy. The same relationship is also found for the open-circuit voltage of the bulk heterojunction solar cells made with the ter- and copolymers in combination with [6,6]-phenyl-C71-butyric acid methyl ester. Comparison of these findings with data in the literature suggests that this is a universal rule that can be used as a tool when designing new π-conjugated polymers. The experimental results are supported by a semiempirical quantum chemical model that accurately describes the energy levels of the terpolymers after parametrization on the energy levels of the copolymers and also provides a theoretical explanation for the observed arithmetic relations.
Heintges, G. H. L., Bolduc, A., Meskers, S. C. J., & Janssen, R. A. J. (2020). Relation between the electronic properties of regioregular donor-acceptor terpolymers and their binary copolymers. Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 124(6), 3503-3516. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jpcc.9b11562