Impact of Thermal Annealing on Organic Photovoltaic Cells Using Regioisomeric Donor-Acceptor-Acceptor Molecules

Tao Zhang, Han Han, Yunlong Zou, Ying Chi Lee, Hiroya Oshima, Ken Tsung Wong, Russell J. Holmes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


We report a promising set of donor-acceptor-acceptor (D-A-A) electron-donor materials based on coplanar thieno[3,2-b]/[2,3-b]indole, benzo[c][1,2,5]thiadiazole, and dicyanovinylene, which are found to show broadband absorption with high extinction coefficients. The role of the regioisomeric electron-donating thienoindole moiety on the physical and structural properties is examined. Bulk heterojunction (BHJ) organic photovoltaic cells (OPVs) based on the thieno[2,3-b]indole-based electron donor NTU-2, using C70 as an electron acceptor, show a champion power conversion efficiency of 5.2% under AM 1.5G solar simulated illumination. This efficiency is limited by a low fill factor (FF), as has previously been the case in D-A-A systems. In order to identify the origin of the limited FF, further insight into donor layer charge-transport behavior is realized by examining planar heterojunction OPVs, with emphasis on the evolution of film morphology with thermal annealing. Compared to as-deposited OPVs that exhibit insufficient donor crystallinity, crystalline OPVs based on annealed thin films show an increase in the short-circuit current density, FF, and power conversion efficiency. These results suggest that that the crystallization of D-A-A molecules might not be realized spontaneously at room temperature and that further processing is needed to realize efficient charge transport in these materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25418-25425
Number of pages8
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number30
StatePublished - Aug 2 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Chemical Society.


  • charge collection
  • crystallinity
  • organic photovoltaic cells
  • push-pull molecules
  • thermal annealing


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