All-polymer solar cells based on photostable bis(perylene diimide) acceptor polymers

Ruben Lenaerts, Tom Cardeynaels, Ivan Sudakov, Jurgen Kesters, Pieter Verstappen, Jean Manca, Benoît Champagne, Laurence Lutsen, Dirk Vanderzande, Koen Vandewal, Etienne Goovaerts, Wouter Maes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fullerene-free organic photovoltaics have recently reached impressive power conversion efficiencies above 14% for single junctions, increasing their competitiveness with respect to alternative thin-film technologies. In most record devices, electron-donating conjugated polymers are combined with novel generation small molecule acceptors. All-polymer organic solar cells, on the other hand, still lag behind in efficiency, although they have specific advantages in terms of ink formulation and long-term operational stability. Another point of attention is the synthetic complexity of the active layer materials, notably on the side of the new acceptor molecules. Therefore, the present study focuses on the implementation of the stable and cost-effective perylene diimide structure as the key component of high-performance electron-accepting polymers. The synthesis, structural and optoelectronic characterization of four push-pull type copolymers containing the electron-deficient bis(perylene diimide) (bis-PDI) unit is reported, as well as the photovoltaic analysis of these acceptor materials in combination with a well-known donor polymer (PTB7-Th). The acceptor polymers differ in the electron-rich part of the alternating push-pull structure and their solar cell power conversion efficiencies range from 3.2 to 4.7%. The maximum efficiency - the best performance achieved with a bis-PDI polymer so far - is obtained for the structurally most simple polymer, containing merely thiophene as the electron-rich building block. Controlled degradation under blue light in air is monitored by the bleaching of the relevant UV–Vis absorption bands, demonstrating high stability for the bis-PDI-thiophene containing polymers as compared to some prototype small molecule acceptors (FBR and ITIC).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)178-184
Number of pages7
JournalSolar Energy Materials and Solar Cells
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019


  • All-polymer
  • Fullerene-free
  • Organic photovoltaics
  • Perylene diimide
  • Photostability
  • Synthetic complexity


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