Molecular Origin of Photovoltaic Performance in Donor-block-Acceptor All-Conjugated Block Copolymers


Smith, K.A.; Lin, Y.-H.; Mok, J.W.; Yager, K.G.; Strzalka, J.; Nie, W.; Mohite, A.D.; Verduzco, R. "Molecular Origin of Photovoltaic Performance in Donor-block-Acceptor All-Conjugated Block Copolymers" Macromolecules 2015, 48 8346–8353.
doi: 10.1021/acs.macromol.5b01383


A series of fully conjugated block copolymers are described. X-ray scattering is used to quantify the structural ordering (orientation, crystallinity, etc.) in thin films.


All-conjugated block copolymers may be an effective route to self-assembled photovoltaic devices, but we lack basic information on the relationship between molecular characteristics and photovoltaic performance. Here, we synthesize a library of poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) block poly((9,9-dialkylfluorene)-2,7-diyl-alt-[4,7-bis(alkylthiophen-5-yl)-2,1,3-benzothiadiazole]-2',2''-diyl) (PFTBT) donor-block-acceptor all-conjugated block copolymers and carry out a comprehensive study of processing conditions, crystallinity, domain sizes, and side-chain structure on photovoltaic device performance. We find that all block copolymers studied exhibit an out-of-plane crystal orientation after deposition, and on thermal annealing at high temperatures the crystal orientation flips to an in-plane orientation. By varying processing conditions on polymer photovoltaic devices, we show that the crystal orientation has only a modest effect (15–20%) on photovoltaic performance. The addition of side chains to the PFTBT block is found to decrease photovoltaic power conversion efficiencies by at least an order of magnitude. Through grazing-incidence X-ray measurements we find that the addition of side chains to the PFTBT acceptor block results in weak segregation and small (<10 nm) block copolymer self-assembled donor and acceptor domains. This work is the most comprehensive to date on all-conjugated block copolymer systems and suggests that photovoltaic performance of block copolymers depends strongly on the miscibility of donor and acceptor blocks, which impacts donor and acceptor domain sizes and purity. Strategies for improving the device performance of block copolymer photovoltaics should seek to increase segregation between donor and acceptor polymer domains.