Rational Design of Donor Acceptor Based Semiconducting Copolymers with High Dielectric Constant

An efficient photogeneration of free charge carriers has long been recognized as the paramount challenge in organic photovoltaic (OPV) devices. The low dielectric constant organic semiconductors fall short to reduce strong Coulombic interaction of tightly bound exciton and hence lead to a loss mechanism in OPVs due to charge-carrier recombination. To circumvent this problem, we adopt a strategy to enhance the dielectric constant of organic semiconductors by incorporating tetraethyleneglycol (TEG) side-chains. We report synthesis of three new semiconducting copolymers by combining thiophene substituted diketopyrrolopyrrole (TDPP) monomer with three other monomeric units with varying electron donating strength: benzodithiophene (BBT-3TEG-TDPP), TDPP (TDPP-3TEG-TDPP) and naphthalene diimide (PNDITEG-TDPP). BBT-3TEG-TDPP and PNDITEG-TDPP showed highest dielectric constants (~ 5) at 1MHz frequency suggesting efficient contribution of dipolar polarization from TEG side-chains. To understand the electronic contribution of the polymer backbone and the polarity of TEG side-chains, and the resulting enhancement of the dielectric constant, we further performed first-principles density functional theory calculations. Single-component organic solar cells (OSC) fabricated utilizing these polymers resulted in poor performance which is attributed to the absence of free charge generation. Furthermore, transient absorption spectroscopy studies show low exciton diffusion length as observed in donor-acceptor type conjugated polymers. Our results suggest that, the strategy of enhancing dielectric constant with polar side-chains is not sufficient to reduce Coulombic interaction between hole and electron in OSCs.