All-Polymer Solar Cell Performance Optimized via Systematic Molecular Weight Tuning of Both Donor and Acceptor Polymers

Nanjia Zhou, Alexander S. Dudnik, Ting I.N.G. Li, Eric F. Manley, Thomas J. Aldrich, Peijun Guo, Hsueh Chung Liao, Zhihua Chen, Lin X. Chen, Robert P.H. Chang, Antonio Facchetti, Monica Olvera De La Cruz, Tobin J. Marks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

199 Citations (Scopus)


The influence of the number-average molecular weight (Mn) on the blend film morphology and photovoltaic performance of all-polymer solar cells (APSCs) fabricated with the donor polymer poly[5-(2-hexyldodecyl)-1,3-thieno[3,4-c]pyrrole-4,6-dione-alt-5,5-(2,5-bis(3-dodecylthiophen-2-yl)thiophene)] (PTPD3T) and acceptor polymer poly{[N,N′-bis(2-octyldodecyl)naphthalene-1,4,5,8-bis(dicarboximide)-2,6-diyl]-alt-5,5′-(2,2′-bithiophene)} (P(NDI2OD-T2); N2200) is systematically investigated. The Mn effect analysis of both PTPD3T and N2200 is enabled by implementing a polymerization strategy which produces conjugated polymers with tunable Mns. Experimental and coarse-grain modeling results reveal that systematic Mn variation greatly influences both intrachain and interchain interactions and ultimately the degree of phase separation and morphology evolution. Specifically, increasing Mn for both polymers shrinks blend film domain sizes and enhances donor-acceptor polymer-polymer interfacial areas, affording increased short-circuit current densities (Jsc). However, the greater disorder and intermixed feature proliferation accompanying increasing Mn promotes charge carrier recombination, reducing cell fill factors (FF). The optimized photoactive layers exhibit well-balanced exciton dissociation and charge transport characteristics, ultimately providing solar cells with a 2-fold PCE enhancement versus devices with nonoptimal Mns. Overall, it is shown that proper and precise tuning of both donor and acceptor polymer Mns is critical for optimizing APSC performance. In contrast to reports where maximum power conversion efficiencies (PCEs) are achieved for the highest Mns, the present two-dimensional Mn optimization matrix strategy locates a PCE "sweet spot" at intermediate Mns of both donor and acceptor polymers. This study provides synthetic methodologies to predictably access conjugated polymers with desired Mn and highlights the importance of optimizing Mn for both polymer components to realize the full potential of APSC performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1240-1251
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Feb 3 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry

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