Design, Synthesis and Characterization of Conjugated Polymers for Photovoltaics and Electrochromics
With the invention of organic electronics, a new class of materials needed to be explored and suitable applications found. The use as semiconductors in many different devices has been explored, where photovoltaics, light-emitting diodes and field-effect transistors have been prominent. For most applications the organic semiconductors have some advantages when compared to their inorganic counterpart, such as molecular design variability, solution processing and flexible mechanical properties. These advantages are quickly making organic semiconductors an interesting alternative in a wide variety of fields.
Organic photovoltaics (OPV) have developed rapidly the last decade and is currently close to being commercially viable for niche applications. There are still some problems to overcome, however, such as device lifetimes, upscaling to large scale production and preferably a higher power conversion efficiency (PCE) as well. A major disadvantage is the use of toxic and environmentally negative solvents during processing. With the rapid rise of OPVs with polymeric donor and acceptors, so called all-polymer solar cells (all-PSC), some old assumptions about the devices are not valid anymore. Rational design of molecules can be used to achieve desired molecular properties in an attempt to overcome these problems.
To address these problems, side chain modification of conventional conjugated polymers was used to produce several series of functional polymers. A set of fluorene-based polymers with polar side chain pendant groups was used as alcohol-soluble cathode interfacial layers. This study managed to prove design principles previously used for polymer:fullerene based solar cells are still valid for all-PSCs. A separate set of polymers, based on isoindigo, included thermocleavable side chains in an effort to address the inherently unstable bulk-heterojunction structures between polymers and fullerenes. This series of polymers managed to show almost complete stabilization of the blend films upon thermal treatment.
In parallel with the developing OPV field, similar conjugated polymers have shown dramatic electrochromism, meaning they change color when an electrical field is applied over them. This peculiar property has possible uses in devices which could either switch between absorbing and transmitting such as windows or sunglasses, or switch between non-emissive coloration and transparent, useful in displays with energy consumption restrictions. The polymers used for organic electrochromics (OEC) need to show a large degree of electrochromic contrast, fast switching speeds and electrochemical stability. These two fields will be treated in this thesis with a focus on design and synthesis of functional polymers to solve the problems and material requirements for their future successful application.
polymer solar cells
all-polymer solar cells
side chain engineering