Donor Conjugated Polymers with Polar Side Chain Groups: The Role of Dielectric Constant and Energetic Disorder on Photovoltaic Performance

Bing Xu, Xueping Yi, Tzu Yen Huang, Zilong Zheng, Junxiang Zhang, Amin Salehi, Veaceslav Coropceanu, Carr Hoi Yi Ho, Seth R. Marder, Michael F. Toney, Jean Luc Brédas, Franky So, John R. Reynolds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


To better understand the correlation of the dielectric properties with the photovoltaic response in conjugated polymer:fullerene bulk heterojunction materials, the concept of introducing minimal structural change is employed to increase the polymer dielectric constant via polar cyano groups added to the end of butyl or octyl side chains in the poly(dithienosilole-thienopyrrolodione) system. Density functional theory calculations confirm that the polar groups do not affect the polymer electronic structure but can lead to an increase in overall dipole moment depending on the polymer chain conformation. Despite the increased dielectric constant (from 2.7 to 4.3 for cyano-octyl side chains and from 2.7 to 3.2 for the cyano-butyl analogues), the device characteristics employing the cyano-containing polymers are inferior to those of the devices made with unfunctionalized alkyl chains. It is found that the hole mobilities for the cyano-containing polymers are two orders of magnitude lower compared to those for the parent polymers and suggest this is due to an increase in energetic disorder caused by the strong local permanent dipoles associated with the cyano groups. The study highlights the complexity in the relationship between the dielectric constant of organic materials, the morphologies that are induced, and their photovoltaic performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1803418
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
Issue number46
StatePublished - Nov 14 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • conjugated polymers
  • energetic disorder
  • organic electronics
  • organic solar cells
  • photovoltaic devices

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • General Chemistry
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • General Materials Science
  • Electrochemistry
  • Biomaterials


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