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Nat Chem. 2009 Nov;1(8):657-61. doi: 10.1038/nchem.403. Epub 2009 Oct 18.

Streamlined microwave-assisted preparation of narrow-bandgap conjugated polymers for high-performance bulk heterojunction solar cells.

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Center for Polymers and Organic Solids, Department of Chemistry, University of California, Santa Barbara, California, USA.


The most efficient plastic solar cells comprise a blend of conjugated polymer and a suitable electron acceptor, typically a fullerene derivative. Therefore narrow-bandgap conjugated polymers are currently sought for the fabrication of such devices. A significant challenge is being able to predict device function and performance from consideration of the molecular connectivity and dimensions of the partners within the active layer. Improved chemical syntheses are therefore required to make structurally varied polymers and enable the delineation of structure-function relationships with the aim of improving power conversion efficiencies. Here, we demonstrate that microwave heating in combination with the screening of comonomer reactant ratios can be used to obtain donor-acceptor copolymers with high average molecular weights and properties that make them suitable for solar cell incorporation. Furthermore, we highlight the importance of high molecular weight and the contribution of solubilizing side groups in determining the final device properties.

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