Acta Phys. -Chim. Sin. ›› 2019, Vol. 35 ›› Issue (3): 251-256.doi: 10.3866/PKU.WHXB201803163

Special Issue: Nonfullerene Organic Solar Cells

• COMMUNICATION • Previous Articles     Next Articles

An Organoboron Compound with a Thienyl Substituent as an Electron Acceptor for Organic Solar Cells

Fangbin LIU,Jun LIU*(),Lixiang WANG   

  • Received:2018-01-29 Published:2018-08-28
  • Contact: Jun LIU
  • Supported by:
    the National Key Basic Research and Development Program of China(2015CB655001);the National Natural Science Foundation of China(21625403);the Jilin Scientific and Technological Development Program, China(20170519003JH);the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences(DB12010200)


Recently, non-fullerene small molecular acceptors (NFSMAs) have received great attention because of their broad and strong absorption spectra and stable active layer morphology when compared with traditional fullerene acceptors. The most widely used strategy to design NFSMAs is through A-D-A type molecules, in which an electron-rich core unit (D) is flanked by two electron-deficient units (A). In order to fine-tune the absorption spectra, energy levels, and photovoltaic properties of NFSMAs, great efforts have been made to modify the conjugated backbone of A-D-A type molecule acceptors. In a previous work, we developed a small molecular electron acceptor, namely MBN-Ph, with an A-D-A structure and an organoboron core unit. MBN-Ph exhibited distinctive absorption spectra with two absorption bands in short- and long-wavelength regions. It is known that side chains or substituents on small molecular electron acceptors can also play an important role in the molecular properties and photovoltaic performance of bulk heterojunction organic solar cells (OSCs). In this work, we report an A-D-A type organoboron compound (MBN-Th) bearing a thienyl substituent on the boron atom, which can be used as an electron acceptor for OSCs. The lowest unoccupied molecular orbital (LUMO) of MBN-Th delocalized on the entire backbone, while the highest occupied molecular orbital (HOMO) localized on the core unit. The unique electronic structure of MBN-Th resulted in two strong absorption peaks at 490 and 726 nm, which indicate a wide absorption spectrum and superior sunlight harvesting capability. Compared with the phenyl substituent, the thienyl group led to an unchanged LUMO energy level, low-lying HOMO energy level by 0.1 eV, and blue-shifted absorption spectrum by 20 nm. OSCs with MBN-Th as an electron acceptor showed a power conversion efficiency of 4.21% and a wide photoresponse from 300 to 850 nm. Our results indicate that the substitution of the boron atom with a thienyl group is an effective strategy to tune the electronic structure of organoboron compounds for applications as electron acceptors in OSCs.

Key words: Organic solar cells, Electron acceptor, Organoboron compound, Boron-nitrogen coordination bond, Absorption spectra