Examining Structure-Property-Function Relationships in Thiophene, Selenophene, and Tellurophene Homopolymers

Joseph G. Manion, Shuyang Ye, Andrew H. Proppe, Arnaud W. Laramée, George R. Mckeown, Emily L. Kynaston, Shana O. Kelley, Edward H. Sargent, Dwight S. Seferos*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Heavy atom main group element-containing conjugated polymers have attracted increasing attention in recent years. The synthesis of these compounds is generally involved, and little is known about their optoelectronic device performance. Here we examine the relationship between polymer structure and optoelectronic behavior in a series of chalcogenophene homopolymers of thiophene, selenophene, and tellurophene with well-matched molecular weights, dispersity, and regioregularity. We employ fast and slow drying device preparations to study the effect of polymer-fullerene separation on charge separation and collection in canonical bulk heterojunction photovoltaic cells. In both preparations, increasing heteroatom size leads to larger proportions of finely mixed polymer-fullerene domains. Differences in polymer-fullerene separation between preparations result in the formation of optimal morphologies in selenophene and tellurophene devices with little impact on thiophene devices. We then use planar heterojunction devices to directly examine the effects of heteroatom substitution on charge transport and charge generation and find that in the absence of polymer-fullerene mixing, devices exhibit similar diode behavior. We further demonstrate that ultrafast decay pathways unique to heavy heteroatom-containing polymers are apparent in both planar and bulk heterojunctions and thus not dependent on polymer-fullerene mixing or polymer assembly. This work directly examines the role of heteroatom substitution in defining the photovoltaic performance of conjugated homopolymers. Through single-atom substitution we are able to significantly modify polymer assembly, mixing, and optoelectronic properties. Specific emphasis on tellurophene polymers reveals relationships between polymer structure and properties that are not apparent in more traditional light-atom chalcogenophenes such as thiophene and selenophene.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5033-5042
Number of pages10
JournalACS Applied Energy Materials
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 24 2018


  • bulk-heterojunction
  • chalcogenophenes
  • donor-acceptor mixing
  • heavy atom effects
  • organic photovoltaics
  • planar-heterojunction
  • ultrafast decay

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Electrochemistry
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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