Material Solubility-Photovoltaic Performance Relationship in the Design of Novel Fullerene Derivatives for Bulk Heterojunction Solar Cells



The preparation of 27 different derivatives of C60 and C70 fullerenes possessing various aryl (heteroaryl) and/or alkyl groups that are appended to the fullerene cage via a cyclopropane moiety and their use in bulk heterojunction polymer solar cells is reported. It is shown that even slight variations in the molecular structure of a compound can cause a significant change in its physical properties, in particular its solubility in organic solvents. Furthermore, the solubility of a fullerene derivative strongly affects the morphology of its composite with poly(3-hexylthiophene), which is commonly used as active material in bulk heterojunction organic solar cells. As a consequence, the solar cell parameters strongly depend on the structure and the properties of the fullerene-based material. The power conversion efficiencies for solar cells comprising these fullerene derivatives range from negligibly low (0.02%) to considerably high (4.1%) values. The analysis of extensive sets of experimental data reveals a general dependence of all solar cell parameters on the solubility of the fullerene derivative used as acceptor component in the photoactive layer of an organic solar cell. It is concluded that the best material combinations are those where donor and acceptor components are of similar and sufficiently high solubility in the solvent used for the deposition of the active layer.