Novel polymer can enhance efficiency of natural and perovskite solar cells


Sep 15, 2021

(Nanowerk News) Skoltech researchers and their colleagues have synthesized a brand new conjugated polymer for natural electronics utilizing two totally different chemical reactions and proven the influence of the 2 strategies on its efficiency in natural and perovskite solar cells. The paper was revealed within the journal Macromolecular Chemistry and Physics (“Impact of Synthetic Route on Photovoltaic Properties of Isoindigo-Containing Conjugated Polymers”). As the world tries to transition to scrub and renewable power, resembling solar energy, scientists are engaged on making solar cells extra environment friendly at producing electrical energy. Among the promising approaches are two quickly creating photovoltaic applied sciences with potential for cheap sustainable solar power era: natural solar cells and lead-halide perovskite solar cells. Their predominant benefit over the industrial solar cells based mostly on crystalline silicon is the low price of depositing the photoactive layer from resolution. It makes power manufacturing cheaper, simplifies scaling up with printing strategies and roll-to-roll manufacture, and permits machine fabrication on versatile and stretchable surfaces. However, there are a number of obstacles to the widespread adoption of those applied sciences. For one factor, the effectivity of natural solar cells nonetheless has a protracted solution to go. This would require tweaking photoactive layer composition. In natural solar cells, the light-to-energy conversion happens within the photoactive layer consisting of a combination of donor and acceptor supplies — the donor is normally a conjugated polymer. As for perovskite solar cells, they’ve reached a spectacular 25.5% licensed file effectivity, however long-term stability stays a problem. Recent analysis has proven that machine stability may be improved by protecting the photoactive perovskite materials with a charge-extraction layer that gives environment friendly encapsulation. Among different supplies, this protecting perform could also be fulfilled by conjugated polymers, making it essential to maximise their high quality by bettering their synthesis. Variation on the duvet artwork of the Macromolecular Chemistry and Physics challenge that includes the examine reported on this story, each of the artworks by the examine’s first creator. (Image: Marina Tepliakova/Skoltech) “Conjugated polymers have a variety of important applications, prompting us to investigate ways to optimize their synthesis to improve their quality, which would lead to a better performance of photovoltaic devices. Our study focuses on a particular type of conjugated polymers, which contain the isoindigo unit in the polymer chain. The findings demonstrate that between the two synthetic pathways applied for the synthesis of isoindigo-based materials, the Stille reaction should be given preference over the Suzuki reaction as the final step in the synthesis,” Skoltech PhD pupil Marina Tepliakova defined. Together with Skoltech Provost Keith Stevenson and their colleagues from the RAS Institute for Problems of Chemical Physics, Marina Tepliakova synthesized a conjugated polymer based mostly on isoindigo, an isomer of the well-known indigo dye. The crew employed two synthesis pathways generally used to provide isoindigo-based polymers: the Stille and the Suzuki polycondensation reactions. Conjugated polymers are natural supplies normally containing alternating donor and acceptor items of their construction, which is why they’re additionally known as D-A-D-A-D supplies. The D and A items, known as monomers, are linked into polymeric chains utilizing numerous polymerization reactions, every of which depends on the monomers bearing sure further purposeful teams to start with. For polymers incorporating the isoindigo unit because the acceptor part, two artificial routes can be found, and the examine by the Skoltech-IPCP RAS crew examined them each. Besides the purposeful group distinction talked about above, the 2 synthesis pathways are totally different by way of the response circumstances required. For instance, the Suzuki polycondensation course of requires that an inorganic base be current along with the 2 monomers within the combination of immiscible fluids: water and natural solvent. Monomer switch between phases is enabled by particular molecules often known as switch catalysts. The Stille response normally happens in a single phase and at elevated temperatures. Additionally, each reactions require palladium-based catalysts. “Our first observation was that the standard conditions of the Suzuki reaction were incompatible with isoindigo-based monomer synthesis,” Marina Tepliakova commented. “Using high-performance liquid chromatography, we observed monomer signal decomposition into three distinct signals of some byproducts with different retention times under the standard Suzuki conditions. This meant irreversible destruction of the isoindigo-based monomer was taking place. So we adjusted the reaction conditions until they were not harmful to the material.” After tweaking the Suzuki response, the crew went on to synthesize the polymer utilizing each pathways. The ensuing supplies have been discovered to have related molecular weights and optoelectronic properties. Next, the researchers examined the samples in photovoltaic gadgets: natural and perovskite solar cells. The polymer obtained utilizing the Stille response demonstrated superior efficiency with efficiencies of 15.1% and 4.1% in perovskite and natural solar cells, respectively; with the Suzuki-derived materials delivering 12.6% and a couple of.7% efficiencies. The crew attributed the distinction in efficiency to the presence of so-called cost traps within the materials obtained utilizing the Suzuki response. This assumption was confirmed utilizing a way known as electron-spin resonance, which confirmed the fabric obtained through the Stille pathway had 5 occasions fewer defects. By adjusting the method to isoindigo-based monomer synthesis, the researchers have discovered a solution to produce high-quality materials that performs effectively in photovoltaic cells. In a follow-up experiment, the crew is now synthesizing a number of supplies to be examined in perovskite solar cells. That upcoming examine will make clear how materials construction pertains to machine efficiency.

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