Chemistry of Materials

Alkyl Branching Position in Diketopyrrolopyrrole Polymers: Interplay between Fibrillar Morphology and Crystallinity and Their Effect on Photogeneration and Recombination in Bulk-Heterojunction Solar Cells

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Diketopyrrolopyrrole (DPP)-based donor-acceptor copolymers have gained a significant amount of research interest in the organic electronics community because of their high charge carrier mobilities in organic field-effect transistors (OFETs) and their ability to harvest near-infrared (NIR) photons in solar cells. In this study, we have synthesized four DPP-based donor-acceptor copolymers with variations in the donor unit and the branching point of the solubilizing alkyl chains (at the second or sixth carbon position). Grazing incidence wide-angle X-ray scattering (GIWAXS) results suggest that moving the branching point further away from the polymer backbone increases the tendency for aggregation and yields polymer phases with a higher degree of crystallinity (DoC). The polymers were blended with PC70BM and used as active layers in solar cells. A careful analysis of the energetics of the neat polymer and blend films reveals that the charge-transfer state energy (ECT) of the blend films lies exceptionally close to the singlet energy of the donor (ED∗), indicating near zero electron transfer losses. The difference between the optical gap and open-circuit voltage (VOC) is therefore determined to be due to rather high nonradiative (≈ 418 ± 13 mV) and unavoidable radiative voltage losses (≈ 255 ± 8 mV). Even though the four materials have similar optical gaps, the short-circuit current density (JSC) covers a vast span from 7 to 18 mA cm-2 for the best performing system. Using photoluminescence (PL) quenching and transient charge extraction techniques, we quantify geminate and nongeminate losses and find that fewer excitons reach the donor-acceptor interface in polymers with further away branching points due to larger aggregate sizes. In these material systems, the photogeneration is therefore mainly limited by exciton harvesting efficiency.