Side-Chain Swap In Conducting Polymers | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 90 Issue 2 | p. 33 | Concentrates
Issue Date: January 9, 2012

Side-Chain Swap In Conducting Polymers

Substituting furan for thiophene creates flexibility in promoting nanostructural order in solar-cell polymers
Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: JACS In C&EN, Organic SCENE
Keywords: solar cells, furan, side chains, nanostructural order, conducting polymer, photovoltaics

Scientists who create organic polymers for solar-cell applications can now boost nanostructural order more easily using linear alkyl side chains, rather than branched ones. These researchers have known that linear substituents in polymers used to make photovoltaic devices improve structural order by reducing π-π stacking distances between polymer backbones. But polymers with linear alkyl substituents tend to be less soluble—and therefore less amenable to solution processing—than their branched brethren. A team led by Jean M. J. Fréchet of the University of California, Berkeley, and King Abdullah University of Science & Technology, in Saudi Arabia, now reports that swapping furan units for some of the thiophene units in the backbone of such polymers produces a material that maintains its solubility, even with linear alkyl side chains (J. Am. Chem. Soc., DOI: 10.1021/ja2089662). Using a polymer dubbed PDPP2FT-C14, the researchers created a bulk heterojunction solar cell with an efficiency of 6.5%, which outperforms solar cells with similar polymers containing branched side chains or polymers with entirely thiophene-based backbones.

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