Acta Phys. -Chim. Sin. ›› 2019, Vol. 35 ›› Issue (4): 394-400.doi: 10.3866/PKU.WHXB201805091

Special Issue: Nonfullerene Organic Solar Cells

• ARTICLE • Previous Articles     Next Articles

A Simple Electron Acceptor with Unfused Backbone for Polymer Solar Cells

Zhongqiang ZHANG1,Shuhua ZHANG1,Zhixi LIU1,Zhiguo ZHANG2,Yongfang LI2,Changzhi LI1,*(),Hongzheng CHEN1,*()   

  1. 1 MOE Key Laboratory of Macromolecular Synthesis and Functionalization, State Key Laboratory of Silicon Materials, Department of Polymer Science and Engineering, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310027, P. R. China
    2 Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190, P. R. China
  • Received:2018-04-10 Published:2018-09-13
  • Contact: Changzhi LI,Hongzheng CHEN;
  • Supported by:
    the National Natural Science Foundation of China(21734008);the National Natural Science Foundation of China(61721005);the National Natural Science Foundation of China(21674093);the National Natural Science Foundation of China(51473142);the Zhejiang Province Science and Technology Plan, China(2018C01047)


Non-fullerene electron acceptors have attracted enormous attention of the research community owing to their advantages of optoelectronic and chemical tunabilities for promoting high-performance polymer solar cells (PSCs). Among them, fused-ring electron acceptors (FREAs) are the most popular ones with the good structural planarity and rigidity, which successfully boost the power conversion efficiencies (PCEs) of PSCs to over 14%. In considering the cost-control of future scale-up applications, it is also worthwhile to explore novel structures that are easy to synthesize and still maintain the advantages of FREAs. In this work, we design and synthesize a new electron acceptor with an unfused backbone, 5, 5'-((2, 5-bis((2-hexyldecyl)oxy)-1, 4-phenylene)bis(thiophene-2-yl))bis(methanylylidene)) bis(3-oxo-2, 3-dihydro-1H-indene-2, 1-diylidene))dimal-ononitrile (ICTP), which contains two thiophenes and one alkoxy benzene as the core and 2-(3-oxo-2, 3-dihydroinden-1-ylidene) malononitrile (IC) as the terminal groups. The synthetic route to ICTP involves only three steps, with high yields. Density functional theory calculations indicate that the non-covalent interactions, O…H and O…S, help reinforce the space conformation between the central core and the terminals. ICTP shows broad and strong absorption in the long-wavelength range between 500 and 760 nm. The highest occupied molecular orbital and lowest unoccupied molecular orbital levels of ICTP were measured to be -5.56 and -3.84 eV by cyclic voltammetry. The suitable absorption and energy levels make ICTP a good acceptor candidate for medium bandgap polymer donors. The best devices based on PBDB-T:ICTP showed a PCE of 4.43%, with an open circuit voltage (VOC) of 0.97 V, a short circuit current density (JSC) of 8.29 mA∙cm-2, and a fill factor (FF) of 0.55, after adding 1% 1, 8-diiodooctane (DIO) as the solvent additive. Atomic force microscopy revealed that DIO could ameliorate the strong aggregation in the blended film and lead to a smoother film surface. The hole and electron mobilities of the optimized device were measured to be 9.64 and 2.03 × 10-5 cm2∙V-1∙s-1, respectively, by the space-charge-limited current method. The relatively low mobilities might be responsible for the moderate PCE. Further studies can be performed to enlarge the conjugation length by including more aromatic rings. This study provides a simple strategy to design non-fullerene acceptors and a valuable reference for the future development of PSCs.

Key words: Polymer solar cell, Non-fullerene acceptor, Non-covalent interaction, Power conversion efficiency, Structure planarity