Phenyl vs alkyl polythiophene: A solar cell comparison using a vinazene derivative as acceptor

Claire H. Woo, Thomas W. Holcombe, David A. Unruh, Alan Sellinger, Jean Frechet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

126 Scopus citations


The solar cell performance of poly[3-(4-n-octyl)-phenylthiophene] (POPT) and poly(3hexylthiophene) (P3HT) are compared in devices using 4,7-bis(2-(l-(2-ethylhexyl)-4,5-dicyanoimidazol-2-yl)vinyi)benzo[c][l,2,5] -thiadiazole (EV-BT) as the electron acceptor. Despite their reduced light absorption, POPT:EV-BT devices generate higher photocurrents in both bilayer and bulk heterojunction (BHJ) architectures than analogous P3HT:EV-BT devices. Optimized POPT:EV-BT BHJ devices achieve 1.4% average efficiency, whereas the analogous P3HT devices only reach 1.1%. Morphology does not account for the large difference in performance as AFM studies of the active layer suggest, comparable levels of phase separation in the two systems. Reverse bias analysis demonstrates that P3HT devices have a higher maximum potential than POPT devices, but P3HT devices appear to be more severely limited by recombination losses under standard operating conditions. A possible explanation for the superior performance in POPT devices is that the pendant phenyl ring in POPT can twist out-of-plane and increase the separation distance with the acceptor molecule. A larger donor/acceptor separation distance can destabilize the geminate pair and lead to more efficient charge separation in POPT:EV-BT devices. Our results emphasize the importance of donor/acceptor pair interactions and its effect on charge separation, processes in polymer solar cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1673-1679
Number of pages7
JournalChemistry of Materials
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 9 2010
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: This work was supported by the U S. Department of Energy under Contract No DE-AC02-05CH11231 and by the Center for Advanced Molecular Photovoltaics (Award No KUS-CI-015-21), supported by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) C H W and T.W.H thank the National Science Foundation For Fellowship support
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Materials Chemistry


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