Unravelling the photodegradation mechanisms of a low bandgap polymer by combining experimental and modeling approaches

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Large-scale introduction of Organic Solar Cells (OSCs) onto the market is currently limited by their poor stability in light and air, factors present in normal working conditions for these devices. Thus, great efforts have to be undertaken to understand the photodegradation mechanisms of their organic materials in order to find solutions that mitigate these effects. This study reports on the elucidation of the photodegradation mechanisms occurring in a low bandgap polymer, namely, Si-PCPDTBT (poly[(4,4′-bis(2-ethylhexyl)dithieno[3,2-b:2′,3′-d]silole)-2,6-diyl-alt-(4,7-bis(2-thienyl)-2,1,3-benzothiadiazole)-5,5′-diyl]). Complementary analytical techniques (AFM, HS-SPME-GC-MS, UV-vis and IR spectroscopy) have been employed to monitor the modification of the chemical structure of the polymer upon photooxidative aging and the subsequent consequences on its architecture and nanomechanical properties. Furthermore, these different characterization techniques have been combined with a theoretical approach based on quantum chemistry to elucidate the evolution of the polymer alkyl side chains and backbone throughout exposure. Si-PCPDTBT is shown to be more stable against photooxidation than the commonly studied p-type polymers P3HT and PCDTBT, while modeling demonstrated the benefits of using silicon as a bridging atom in terms of photostability. (Figure Presented).

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2166-2176
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry: Part C
Issue number4
Early online date19 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jan 2015


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