Acta Phys. -Chim. Sin. ›› 2018, Vol. 34 ›› Issue (11): 1239-1249.doi: 10.3866/PKU.WHXB201803272

Special Issue: Special Issue in Honor of Professor Yongfang Li's 70th Birthday

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Fluorination: An Effective Molecular Design Strategy for Efficient Photovoltaic Materials

Dan DENG,Erjun ZHOU*(),Zhixiang WEI*()   

  • Received:2018-02-23 Published:2018-04-17
  • Contact: Erjun ZHOU,Zhixiang WEI;
  • Supported by:
    the National Natural Science Foundation of China(51603051);the National Natural Science Foundation of China(21125420);the Youth Innovation Promotion Association CAS


Organic solar cells (OSCs) have received widespread attention for their advantages of cheap, light, flexible characteristics and roll-to-roll printing technology. However, the efficiencies of OSCs are still lower than 50% of the theoretical Shockley-Queisser detailed-balance efficiency limit. Consequently, to further improve device performance, it is significant to develop molecular design strategies to lower the energy loss and enhance the utilization of absorbed photons. From the molecular design aspects, down-shifting energy levels is an effective way to lowering the energy loss in order to obtain a high open circuit voltage, and optimizing the morphology is an efficient approach to lowering the fill factor and current density loss. Introduction of fluorine atom in molecules is an effective molecular design strategy to realize both above-mentioned requirements. In this review, starting from the characteristics of fluorine atoms, we summarized the fluorination effects on adjusting molecular levels. Whether the fluorine attached to the donor units, acceptor units or π-bridge units, it could efficiently downshift the energy levels. However, fluorinating the molecular backbone affects the energy levels more significantly than fluorinating the side chains of the two-dimensional structures. The introduction of fluorine is also an effective approach to optimize molecular packing and morphology. Generally, whether the fluorine attached to the donor units, acceptor units or π-bridge units, it can effectively increase molecular coherence length, decrease ππ stacking distance, and enhance domain purity. However, there is a saturation of the fluorine on the backbone, further introduction of the fluorine can accelerate molecular aggregation and induce disorder. In addition, the position of fluorination is important. In this review, we also briefly discuss the fluorination strategy for representative and high-efficiency photovoltaic material designs, including small molecule, polymer, and non-fullerene OSCs, mainly focusing on improving efficiency by reducing the efficiency losses. Fluorination is advantageous only for OSCs with high HOMO energy levels or poor molecular packing; otherwise, it can compromise device performance. OSCs based on narrow band-gap non-fullerene acceptors with low energy loss show promise for highly efficient device performance. Fluorination provides an effective means to fine-tune energy levels and form ideal microstructures to further reduce the efficiency loss and achieve a breakthrough in device performance.

Key words: Fluorination, Energy level, Morphology, Energy loss, Power conversion efficiency