Ternary structure is an important design strategy to obtain high-efficiency non-fullerene organic photovoltaics (OPVs). However, the role of the third component to the standard binary system is still unclear. Here, a wide-bandgap small-molecule acceptor, denoted IDT-T, is synthesized and used together with a wide-bandgap donor polymer, PBDB-T, and a low-bandgap acceptor, ITIC, for fullerene-free ternary solar cells. The ternary cell features an enhanced power conversion efficiency (PCE) up to 12.2%, together with improved photocurrent density, open-circuit voltage (VOC), and fill factor. Studies of the thin films indicate that IDT-T functions as an energy-level mediator, a fluorescence resonance energy-transfer donor, an electron acceptor, and a crystallization modulator in the blend, which contribute synergistically in the ternary blend to deliver a higher VOC, more efficient exciton generation, suppressed bimolecular charge recombination and enhanced charge transport, and an overall high photovoltaic performance. Very recently, non-fullerene acceptors (NFAs) based on low-bandgap small molecules have emerged as a new class of acceptors that rival the dominance of fullerene-based acceptors. Such discovery also stimulates promising device architectures such as ternary solar cells, with a handful that have achieved high power conversion efficiencies above 12%. The primary effort, however, has been focusing on low-bandgap NFAs that exploit complementary absorption and energy-level cascade. Herein we report a rare example of a wide-bandgap NFA that leads to high-performance ternary solar cells without relying on full absorption complementarity of all three components. Detailed studies revealed the multiple roles of this acceptor in blend films, which contribute synergistically to improved device characteristics. This work may inspire new design principles of potent wide-bandgap NFAs, which will open the door to high-efficiency organic photovoltaic devices through new opportunities such as multi-component solar cells. The marriage of non-fullerene acceptors (NFAs) and ternary solar cell architecture has brought about great advances in organic photovoltaics. The primary effort, however, has been focusing on low-bandgap NFAs that exploit complementary absorption and energy-level cascade. Here we report a wide-bandgap NFA IDT-T that functions as an energy-level mediator, a fluorescence resonance energy-transfer donor, an electron acceptor, and a crystallization modulator, which contribute synergistically in a ternary blend to yield high organic photovoltaic device performance.
Xiao, L., He, B., Hu, Q., Maserati, L., Zhao, Y., Yang, B., … Liu, Y. (2018). Multiple Roles of a Non-fullerene Acceptor Contribute Synergistically for High-Efficiency Ternary Organic Photovoltaics. Joule, 2(10), 2154–2166. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.joule.2018.08.002