• ladder-type structures;
  • polymer solar cells;
  • field-effect transistors


A new class of ladder-type dithienosilolo-carbazole (DTSC), dithienopyrrolo-carbazole (DTPC), and dithienocyclopenta-carbazole (DTCC) units is developed in which two outer thiophene subunits are covalently fastened to the central 2,7-carbazole cores by silicon, nitrogen, and carbon bridges, respectively. The heptacyclic multifused monomers are polymerized with the benzothiadiazole (BT) acceptor by palladium-catalyzed cross-coupling to afford three alternating donor-acceptor copolymers poly(dithienosilolo-carbazole-alt-benzothiadiazole) (PDTSCBT), poly(dithienocyclopenta-carbazole-alt-benzothiadiazole) (PDTCCBT), and poly(dithienopyrrolo-carbazole-alt-benzothiadiazole) (PDTPCBT). The silole units in DTSC possess electron-accepting ability that lowers the highest occupied molecular orbital (HOMO) and lowest unoccupied molecular orbital (LUMO) energy levels of PDTSCBT, whereas stronger electron-donating ability of the pyrrole moiety in DTPC increases the HOMO and LUMO energy levels of PDTPCBT. The optical bandgaps (Egopt) deduced from the absorption edges of thin film spectra are in the following order: PDTSCBT (1.83 eV) > PDTCCBT (1.64 eV) > PDTPCBT (1.50 eV). This result indicated that the donor strength of the heptacyclic arenes is in the order: DTPC > DTCC > DTSC. The devices based on PDTSCBT and PDTCCBT exhibited high hole mobilities of 0.073 and 0.110 cm2 V−1 s−1, respectively, which are among the highest performance from the OFET devices based on the amorphous donor-acceptor copolymers. The bulk heterojunction photovoltaic device using PDTSCBT as the p-type material delivered a promising efficiency of 5.2% with an enhanced open circuit voltage, Voc, of 0.82 V.