To explore the aptitude of 1,2,4-oxadiazole-based electron-acceptor unit in polymer solar cell applications, we prepared four new polymers (P1–P4) containing 1,2,4-oxadiazole moiety in their main chain and applied them to solar cell applications. Thermal, optical, and electrochemical properties of the polymers were studied using thermogravimetric, absorption, and cyclic voltammetry analysis, respectively. All four polymers showed high thermal stability (5% degradation temperature over 335 °C), and the optical band gaps were calculated to be 2.20, 1.72, 1.37, and 1.74 eV, respectively, from the onset wavelength of the film-state absorption band. The energy levels of the polymers were found to be suitable for bulk heterojunction (BHJ) solar cell applications. The BHJ solar cells were prepared by using the synthesized polymers as a donor and PC71BM as an electron acceptor with the configuration of ITO/PEDOT:PSS/polymer:PC71BM (1:3 wt %)/LiF/Al. One of the polymers was found to show the maximum power conversion efficiency of 1.33% with a Jsc of 4.95 mA/cm2, a Voc of 0.68 V, and a FF of 40%, measured using AM 1.5 G solar simulator at 100 mW/cm2 light illumination. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Polym Sci Part A: Polym Chem, 2013
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