Nature of the Binding Interactions between Conjugated Polymer Chains and Fullerenes in Bulk Heterojunction Organic Solar Cells

MK Ravva and T Wang and JL Bredas, CHEMISTRY OF MATERIALS, 28, 8181-8189 (2016).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemmater.6b02930

Blends of pi-conjugated polymers and fullerene derivatives are ubiquitous as the active layers of organic solar cells. However, a detailed understanding of the weak noncovalent interactions at the molecular level between the polymer chains and fullerenes is still lacking and could help in the design of more efficient photoactive layers. Here, using a combination of long-range corrected density functional theory calculations and molecular dynamic simulations, we report a thorough characterization of the nature of binding between fullerenes (C-60 and PC61BM) and poly(benzo1,2-b:4,5-b'dithiophene- thieno3,4-cpyrrole-4,6-dione) (PBDTTPD) chains. We illustrate the variations in binding strength when the fullerenes dock on the electron- rich vs electron-poor units of the polymer as well as the importance of the role played by the polymer and fullerene side chains and the orientations of the PC61BM molecules with respect to the polymer backbones.

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