Examining the effect of the dipole moment on charge separation in donor-acceptor polymers for organic photovoltaic applications

Bridget Carsten, Jodi M. Szarko, Hae Jung Son, Wei Wang, Luyao Lu, Feng He, Brian S. Rolczynski, Sylvia J. Lou, Lin X. Chen*, Luping Yu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

342 Scopus citations


A new low band gap copolymer PBB3 containing [6,6′]bi[thieno[3,4-b] thiophenyl]-2,2′-dicarboxylic acid bis-(2-butyloctyl) ester (BTT) and 4,8-bis(2-butyloctyl)benzo[1,2-b:4,5-b′]dithiophene (BDT) units was synthesized and tested for solar cell efficiency. PBB3 showed a broad absorbance in the near-IR region with a substantially red-shifted (by more than 100 nm) λ max at 790 nm as compared to the PTB series of polymers, which have been previously reported. The PBB3 polymer also showed both a favorable energy level match with PCBM (with a LUMO energy level of -3.29 eV) and a favorable film domain morphology as evidenced by TEM images. Despite these seemingly optimal parameters, a bulk heterojunction (BHJ) photovoltaic device fabricated from a blend of PBB3 and PC 71BM showed an overall power conversion efficiency (PCE) of only 2.04% under AM 1.5G/100 mW cm -2. The transient absorption spectra of PBB3 showed the absence of cationic and pseudo charge transfer states that were observed previously in the PTB series polymers, which were also composed of alternating thienothiophene (TT) and BDT units. We compared the spectral features and electronic density distribution of PBB3 with those of PTB2, PTB7, and PTBF2. While PTB2 and PTB7 have substantial charge transfer characteristics and also relatively large local internal dipoles through BDT to TT moieties, PTBF2 and PBB3 have minimized internal dipole moments due to the presence of two adjacent TT units (or two opposing fluorine atoms in PTBF2) with opposite orientations or internal dipoles. PBB3 showed a long-lived excitonic state and the slowest electron transfer dynamics of the series of polymers, as well as the fastest recombination rate of the charge-separated (CS) species, indicating that electrons and holes are more tightly bound in these species. Consequently, substantially lower degrees of charge separation were observed in both PBB3 and PTBF2. These results show that not only the energetics but also the internal dipole moment along the polymer chain may be critical in maintaining the pseudocharge transfer characteristics of these systems, which were shown to be partially responsible for the high PCE device made from the PTB series of low band gap copolymers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20468-20475
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number50
StatePublished - Dec 21 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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