We report the synthesis, properties, and photovoltaic applications of a new conjugated copolymer (C12DPP-π-BT) containing a donor group (bithiophene) and an acceptor group (2,5-didodecylpyrrolo[3,4-c]pyrrole-1,4(2H,5H)-dione), bridged by a phenyl group. Using cyclic voltammetry, we found the energy levels of C12DPP-π-BT are intermediate to common electron donor and acceptor photovoltaic materials, poly (3-hexylthiophene-2,5-diyl) (P3HT) and [6,6]-phenyl-C61-butyric acid methyl ester (PCBM), respectively. Whereas P3HT and PCBM are exclusively electron donating or accepting, we predict C12DPP-π-BT may uniquely serve as either an electron donor or an acceptor when paired with PCBM or P3HT forming junctions with large built-in potentials. We confirmed the ambipolar nature of C12DPP-π-BT in space charge limited current measurements and in C12DPP-π-BT:PCBM and C12DPP-π-BT:P3HT bulk heterojunction solar cells, achieving power conversion efficiencies of 1.67% and 0.84%, respectively, under illumination of AM 1.5G (100 mW/cm2). Adding diiodooctane to C12DPP-π-BT:PCBM improved donor-acceptor inter-mixing and film uniformity, and therefore enhanced charge separation and overall device efficiency. Using higher-molecular-weight polymer C12DPP-π-BT in both C12DPP-π-BT:PCBM and C12DPP-π-BT:P3HT devices improved charge transport and hence the performance of the solar cells. In addition, we compared the structural and electronic properties of C12DPP-π-BT:PCBM and C12DPP-π-BT:P3HT blends, representing the materials classes of polymer:fullerene and polymer:polymer blends. In C12DPP-π-BT:PCBM blends, higher short circuit currents were obtained, consistent with faster charge transfer and balanced electron and hole transport, but lower open circuit voltages may be reduced by trap-assisted recombination and interfacial recombination losses. In contrast, C12DPP-π-BT:P3HT blends exhibit higher open circuit voltage, but short circuit currents were limited by charge transfer between the polymers. In conclusion, C12DPP-π-BT is a promising material with intrinsic ambipolar characteristics for organic photovoltaics and may operate as either a donor or acceptor in the design of bulk heterojunction solar cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Materials Science(all)