The specific optical absorption of an organic semiconductor is critical to the performance of organic optoelectronic devices. For example, higher light-harvesting efficiency can lead to higher photocurrent in solar cells that are limited by sub-optimal electrical transport. Here, we compare over 40 conjugated polymers, and find that many different chemical structures share an apparent maximum in their extinction coefficients. However, a diketopyrrolopyrrole-thienothiophene copolymer shows remarkably high optical absorption at relatively low photon energies. By investigating its backbone structure and conformation with measurements and quantum chemical calculations, we find that the high optical absorption can be explained by the high persistence length of the polymer. Accordingly, we demonstrate high absorption in other polymers with high theoretical persistence length. Visible light harvesting may be enhanced in other conjugated polymers through judicious design of the structure.
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M.S.V. and S.F. are grateful to the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) for a doctoral training award and a CDT studentship (EP/G037515/1), respectively. G.P. and S.C.H. acknowledge the University of Cyprus for funding through the internal grant ‘ORGANIC’. B.D., A.R.G. and M.C.-Q. acknowledge financial support from the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad of Spain through projects CSD2010–00044 (Consolider NANOTHERM), SEV-2015–0496 and MAT2012–37776 and the European Research Council through project ERC CoG648901. I.Meager., R.S.A. and I.McCulloch acknowledge support from the European Commission FP7 Project ArtESun (604397). J.N. is grateful to the Royal Society for a Wolfson Merit Award, and acknowledges financial support from EPSRC grants EP/K030671/1, EP/K029843/1 and EP/J017361/1. The authors thank I. Alonso for performing supplementary ellipsometric measurements; we thank T. Kirchartz, J. Moore Frost, C. Müller, I. Alonso and A. Myers for helpful discussions.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Vezie, M., Few, S., Meager, I. et al. Exploring the origin of high optical absorption in conjugated polymers. Nature Mater 15, 746–753 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/nmat4645
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