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J Nanosci Nanotechnol. 2014 Feb;14(2):1064-84.

Fullerene derivatives as electron acceptors for organic photovoltaic cells.


Energy is currently one of the most important problems humankind faces. Depletion of traditional energy sources such as coal and oil results in the need to develop new ways to create, transport, and store electricity. In this regard, the sun, which can be considered as a giant nuclear fusion reactor, represents the most powerful source of energy available in our solar system. For photovoltaic cells to gain widespread acceptance as a source of clean and renewable energy, the cost per watt of solar energy must be decreased. Organic photovoltaic cells, developed in the past two decades, have potential as alternatives to traditional inorganic semiconductor photovoltaic cells, which suffer from high environmental pollution and energy consumption during production. Organic photovoltaic cells are composed of a blended film of a conjugated-polymer donor and a soluble fullerene-derivative acceptor sandwiched between a poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene):poly(styrenesulfonate)-coated indium tin oxide positive electrode and a low-work-function metal negative electrode. Considerable research efforts aim at designing and synthesizing novel fullerene derivatives as electron acceptors with up-raised lowest unoccupied molecular orbital energy, better light-harvesting properties, higher electron mobility, and better miscibility with the polymer donor for improving the power conversion efficiency of the organic photovoltaic cells. In this paper, we systematically review novel fullerene acceptors synthesized through chemical modification for enhancing the photovoltaic performance by increasing open-circuit voltage, short-circuit current, and fill factor, which determine the performance of organic photovoltaic cells.

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