Photoactive Blend Morphology Engineering through Systematically Tuning Aggregation in All-Polymer Solar Cells

Gang Wang, Nicholas D. Eastham, Thomas J. Aldrich, Boran Ma, Eric F. Manley, Zhihua Chen, Lin X. Chen*, Monica Olvera de la Cruz, Robert P.H. Chang, Ferdinand S. Melkonyan, Antonio Facchetti, Tobin J. Marks

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Polymer aggregation plays a critical role in the miscibility of materials and the performance of all-polymer solar cells (APSCs). However, many aspects of how polymer texturing and aggregation affect photoactive blend film microstructure and photovoltaic performance are poorly understood. Here the effects of aggregation in donor–acceptor blends are studied, in which the number-average molecular weights (Mns) of both an amorphous donor polymer, poly[4,8-bis(5-(2-ethylhexyl)thiophen-2-yl)benzo[1,2-b;4,5-b′]dithiophene-2,6-diyl-alt-(4-(2-ethylhexyl)-3-fluorothieno[3,4-b]thiophene-)-2-carboxylate-2-6-diyl)] (PBDTT-FTTE) and a semicrystalline acceptor polymer, poly{[N,N′-bis(2-octyldodecyl)naphthalene-1,4,5,8-bis(dicarboximide)-2,6-diyl]-alt-5,5′-(2,2′-bithiophene)} (P(NDI2OD-T2)) are systematically varied. The photovoltaic performance is correlated with active layer microstructural and optoelectronic data acquired by in-depth transmission electron microscopy, grazing incidence wide-angle X-ray scattering, thermal analysis, and optical spectroscopic measurements. Coarse-grained modeling provides insight into the effects of polymer aggregation on the blend morphology. Notably, the computed average distance between the donor and the acceptor polymers correlates well with solar cell photovoltaic metrics such as short-circuit current density (Jsc) and represents a useful index for understanding/predicting active layer blend material intermixing trends. Importantly, these results demonstrate that for polymers with different texturing tendencies (amorphous/semicrystalline), the key for optimal APSC performance, photovoltaic blend morphology can be controlled via both donor and acceptor polymer aggregation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1702173
JournalAdvanced Energy Materials
Issue number12
StatePublished - Apr 25 2018


  • all-polymer solar cells
  • coarse-grained modeling
  • morphology engineering
  • organic photovoltaics
  • templating effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Materials Science


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