Material Crystallinity as a Determinant of Triplet Dynamics and Oxygen Quenching in Donor Polymers for Organic Photovoltaic Devices

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Abstract

This paper is concerned with the photophysics of triplet excitons in conjugated donor polymers, and their quenching by molecular oxygen. These photophysics are assayed by transient absorption spectroscopy, and correlated with X-ray diffraction measurements of relative material crystallinity. Eleven different donor polymers are considered, including representatives from several classes of donor polymers recently developed for organic solar cell applications. Triplet lifetimes in an inert (nitrogen) environment range from <100 ns to 5 μs. A remarkably quantitative correlation is observed between these triplet lifetimes and polymer XRD strength, with more crystalline polymers exhibiting shorter triplet lifetimes. Given the broad range of polymers considered, this correlation indicates that material crystallinity is the dominant factor determining triplet lifetime for the polymers studied herein. The rate constant for oxygen quenching of these triplet states, determined from a comparison of transient absorption data under inert and oxygen environments, also show a correlation with material crystallinity. Overall these dependencies result in the yield of oxygen quenching of polymer triplet states increasing strongly as the crystallinity of the polymer is reduced. These photophysical data are compared with photochemical stability of these donor polymers, assayed by photobleaching studies of polymer films under continuous light exposure in an oxygen environment. A partial correlation is observed, with the most stable polymers being the most crystalline, exhibiting negligible oxygen quenching yields. These results are discussed in terms of the likely origins of the correlations between material crystallinity and photophysics, and in terms of their implications for the environmental stability of such donor polymers in optoelectronic devices.

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