Next Article in Journal
A New Wide-Band Double-Negative Metamaterial for C- and S-Band Applications
Previous Article in Journal
Enhanced Photocatalytic Efficiency of N–F-Co-Embedded Titania under Visible Light Exposure for Removal of Indoor-Level Pollutants
Font Type:
Arial Georgia Verdana
Font Size:
Aa Aa Aa
Line Spacing:
Column Width:

Fullerene-Based Photoactive Layers for Heterojunction Solar Cells: Structure, Absorption Spectra and Charge Transfer Process

College of Science, Northeast Forestry University, Harbin 150040, Heilongjiang, China
Department of Physics, Liaoning University, Shenyang 110036, Liaoning, China
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Materials 2015, 8(1), 42-56;
Submission received: 16 September 2014 / Accepted: 24 November 2014 / Published: 25 December 2014
(This article belongs to the Section Energy Materials)


The electronic structure and optical absorption spectra of polymer APFO3, [70]PCBM/APFO3 and [60]PCBM/APFO3, were studied with density functional theory (DFT), and the vertical excitation energies were calculated within the framework of the time-dependent DFT (TD-DFT). Visualized charge difference density analysis can be used to label the charge density redistribution for individual fullerene and fullerene/polymer complexes. The results of current work indicate that there is a difference between [60]PCBM and [70]PCBM, and a new charge transfer process is observed. Meanwhile, for the fullerene/polymer complex, all calculations of the twenty excited states were analyzed to reveal all possible charge transfer processes in depth. We also estimated the electronic coupling matrix, reorganization and Gibbs free energy to further calculate the rates of the charge transfer and the recombination. Our results give a clear picture of the structure, absorption spectra, charge transfer (CT) process and its influencing factors, and provide a theoretical guideline for designing further photoactive layers of solar cells.

1. Introduction

Organic heterojunction photovoltaic devices have received increasing scientific attention owing to their flexibility, ease of processing, potentially low cost and the long-term sustainability advantages of organics [1,2,3,4], as well as being viewed as promising alternatives for established silicon based systems. For a heterojunction solar cell, the active layer is sandwiched between a transparent indium tin oxide (ITO) anode and a low-work-function metal cathode, comprised of a conjugated polymer as donor (D) and a fullerene derivative as acceptor (A). During photo-excitation, firstly the active layer absorbs the solar photons to create excitons, followed by dissociating into free holes and electrons in the D/A interface; secondly, holes and electrons move through the donor and acceptor channels to anodes and cathodes, respectively; subsequently, charges are collected at the electrodes, resulting in the generation of electrical power. Therefore, to construct an efficient artificial photoactive layer, the following characteristics [5,6] are required: (a) the capture of absorption light obtained by antenna molecules; and (b) the absorption of light must lead to direct electron transfer from D to A; and (c) the charge transfer rate must be larger than the charge recombination rate. Usually, the candidates of an electron transfer system with high-efficiency are covalently linked donor and acceptor moieties; for example, some photosensitizing electron donors such as porphyrin, phthalocyanine and ruthenium phthalocyanine, were covalently linked to fullerene [7,8,9]. Another approach is a mixture of fullerene with an electron donor, such as poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT): [60]PCBM, Poly(p-phenylene vinylene) (PPV): [60]PCBM, metallophthalocyanine: fullerene [10,11,12,13,14], etc.
As an important assisting method, theoretical simulation may provide the clue to understand the microscopic mechanism behind the experimental phenomenon. Theodorakopoulos et al. [15] investigated the electronic structure and in particular the effect on the chemical properties of the pyrrolidine nitrogen atom of fullerene as well as of additional substituted groups with density functional theory (DFT) and time-dependent DFT (TD-DFT) methods. The geometries, electronic structures, polarizabilities and hyperpolarizabilities, and UV-vis spectra of metallo phthalocyanine dyes and metallophthalocyanine-fullerene supramolecules were studied [16]. The relationship between charge density and mobility of fullerenes was revealed by using first-principles calculation [17]. Barszcza et al. [18] reported a theoretical investigation on the electronic absorption spectra of fullerene-thiophene-derived dyads, and they found the strongest excitations in the dyads are mainly related to the excitations of the fullerene part with some influence from the thiophene-derived part and intramolecular charge transfer processes. Our previous research also demonstrated that some states are intramolecular charge transfer states, and others belong to locally excited states, and predicted that electron transfer for the intramolecular charge transfer state takes place more easily, according to the calculated results of the electronic coupling matrix elements [19,20].
Though much attention has been paid to the utility of C60 derivatives as an artificial photoelectric conversion system, little work has been done on the light absorption characteristics and the charge transfer process of C70 derivatives, especially for the individual C70 derivatives and the mixture of C70 derivatives with counter donor. The effect of C60 and C70 on the optical response and efficiency of interfacial charge transfer still needs to be studied in detail. In the current work, we performed calculations of density functional theory (DFT) and time-dependent density functional theory (TDDFT) to obtain the geometric, electronic structures and the absorption spectra of the mixed fullerene/polymer complex, that is, [70]PCBM/APFO3 ([6,6]phenyl-C71-butyric acid-methyl ester) and [60]PCBM/APFO3 on the basis of experimental report [21]; the name APFO3 is the abbreviation of APFO3 (poly[2,7-(9,9-dioctylfluorene)-alt-5,5-(4,7′-di-2-thienyl-2′,1′,-3-benzothiadiazole)]. The parameters affecting charge transfer and charge recombination, were estimated and compared. Moreover, the developed 3D real-space analysis was used to investigate the excited states feature and charge transfer properties of the binary system.

2. Methods

All the quantum chemical calculations were done with Gaussian 09 suite [22]. The molecular structures of APFO3, [70]PCBM/APFO3 and [60]PCBM/APFO3 can be seen from Figure 1. The side chains of APFO3 were replaced by hydrogen atoms in order to save computational cost, on consideration that they merely aid in improving solubility and have negligible influence on optical properties [23,24]. Although the omission of the side chains is a common decision in this field, it should be done with caution because the side chains can affect conformational torsion of the backbone of some oligomers [25]. The ground state geometries were optimized with density functional theory (DFT) [26], using B3LYP functional [27,28,29] and 6-31G (D) basis set. For the calculations of inner reorganization energies, the cationic ground state geometry of APFO3, and anionic ground state geometries of [70]PCBM and [60]PCBM were optimized, using the DFT//B3LYP/6-31G(D). Then the energies of neutral acceptors at the anionic geometry and the optimal ground-state geometry were calculated by using the DFT//B3LYP/6-31G(D), respectively; and the energies of the radical cation at the neutral geometry and optimal cation geometry were calculated on the same functional and basis set. Based on the optimized neutral structures, the time-dependent DFT (TD-DFT) method [30] with long-range corrected functional Cam-B3LYP [31] and basis set 6-31G (D) was used to obtain the optical absorption properties. To calculate the charge transfer integral (electronic coupling matrix), the Generalized Mulliken-Hush (GMH) model and the finite field method on the excitation energy of the donor-acceptor heterojunction were employed (which will be discussed below).
Figure 1. Structures of APFO3 (poly[2,7-(9,9-dioctylfluorene)-alt-5,5-(4,7′-di-2-thienyl- 2′,1′,-3-benzothiadiazole)] (n = 1 and n = 2) and C70-fullerene based acceptor.
Figure 1. Structures of APFO3 (poly[2,7-(9,9-dioctylfluorene)-alt-5,5-(4,7′-di-2-thienyl- 2′,1′,-3-benzothiadiazole)] (n = 1 and n = 2) and C70-fullerene based acceptor.
Materials 08 00042 g001
To visualize charge transfer on their electronic transitions, three dimensional (3D) cube representations were used, and 3D charge difference density indicated that the electronic redistribution involving the whole structure takes place upon excitation [32,33,34,35]. The charge difference density is defined as:
Δ ρ u u ( r ) = a u n o c c i , j o c c C u a j C u a i ϕ j ( r ) ϕ i ( r ) a , b u n o c c i o c c C u b i C u a i ϕ b ( r ) ϕ a ( r )
where C u a i is the uth eigenvector of the single configuration interaction (CI) Hamiltonian on the basis of the occupied Hartree-Fock molecular orbital ϕ i(r) and the unoccupied ϕ a(r) orbital [32,33]; in this equation the first and the second terms stand for hole and electron, respectively.

3. Results and Discussion

3.1. Energy Levels and Band Gap

The calculated energies of the highest occupied orbital (HOMO) and the lowest unoccupied orbital (LUMO) are shown in Figure 2, and the detailed results are listed in Table S1. As shown in Figure 2, the differences of energy levels between HOMO and LUMO for polymer APF03 are small for different units (n = 1 and n = 2), and the band gap is calculated to be 2.274 eV and 2.151 eV for n = 1 and n = 2, respectively; the calculated result of unit n = 1 agrees well with the experimental result (2.2 eV) [21]. As another binary system, the energy levels of C70 and C60 derivatives have the diversity to reduce in comparison with APFO3. The LUMO of C70P is slightly higher than that of C60P. While, the LUMOs of the binary system are closed to that of fullerenes, their HOMOs verge on HOMOs of APFO3, which leads to charge transfer controlling by transition from HOMO to LUMO and can take place from APFO3 to fullerenes. Compared to the isolated donor or acceptor, the donor-acceptor complex has a decreased trend of HOMO-LUMO band gap.
Figure 2. Energy levels of polymers and fullerene, where (APFO3)n=1, (APFO3)n=2, [C70]PCBM, [C60]PCBM, [C60]PCBM/(APFO3)n=1 and [C70]PCBM/(APFO3)n=1 are abbreviated as A(n = 1), A(n = 2), C70P, C60P, C60P-A and C70P-A, respectively.
Figure 2. Energy levels of polymers and fullerene, where (APFO3)n=1, (APFO3)n=2, [C70]PCBM, [C60]PCBM, [C60]PCBM/(APFO3)n=1 and [C70]PCBM/(APFO3)n=1 are abbreviated as A(n = 1), A(n = 2), C70P, C60P, C60P-A and C70P-A, respectively.
Materials 08 00042 g002

3.2. Optical Absorption of Donor, Acceptor and the Donor-Acceptor Complex

Based on optimized ground-state structure of APFO3, vertical excitation energies and oscillator strengths for the five excited states were calculated, which are listed in Table 1. For n = 1 and n = 2, the absorption spectra cover the UV-visible region, and have one common property, i.e., their first excited state (S1) has high oscillator strength, compared to the other energetically low lying states. Transition density in Figure 3 shows the strength and orientation of the transition moment for calculated excited states. For n = 1, red electrons are mainly located on the left unit and green holes reside on the right unit, and thus the transition moment is singlet direction. In comparison, the orientation of the transition moment for n = 2 is unchanged, and the electron and hole are distributed over two monomers, which results in the increased strength of the transition moment. Due to the proportional relationship between oscillator strength with the transition energy (Ege) and transition moment (μge), f = ( 8 π 2 m e / 3 e 2 h ) E g e μ g e 2 [36,37], APFO3 (n = 2) displays a larger oscillator strength than APFO3 (n = 1) under the condition of similar transition energy (Table 1). The week absorption of S2 can be explained by TD analysis, and Figure 3 shows there are the two sub-transition dipole moments with the “tail to tail” character since more holes are mainly localized on both sides of APFO3, which results to a large extent in the weakness of the total transition dipole moment. So the total transition dipole moment of S2 state is smaller than that of S1 state. Turning to the charge transfer character of APFO3, the redistribution of electron density during photo-excitation was visualized with charge difference density (see Figure 3). It was found that S1 and S2 have some intramolecular CT character, where electron transfer is transferred from two-sided fluorene and thiophene units to the middle unit; while the S3 state at 3.78 eV is essentially an π π * excited state.
Table 1. Calculated transition energies (eV, nm) and oscillator strengths (f) for polymer (n = 1 and n = 2).
Table 1. Calculated transition energies (eV, nm) and oscillator strengths (f) for polymer (n = 1 and n = 2).
Statesn = 1n = 2Experiment
eV (nm)feV (nm)fnm
UV-visible spectra of [70]PCBM were simulated on the basis of the calculated fifty excited states (see Table S2), and transition energies and oscillator strengths were interpolated by a Gaussian convolution with the full width at half-maximum of 0.4 eV. As shown in Figure 4, the simulated UV-visible absorption spectra of [70]PCBM exhibits three broad and dense bands. The first absorption band of [70]PCBM is at about 450 nm, and is mainly composed of two bright states (S7 and S6), which come from a strong local excitation of C70 because photon-induced distribution of electron-hole pairs only locates on C70 (see CDD in Figure 5, where several typical excited states are listed; more excited states can be seen in Figure S1). For the other two bands, the dominated higher singlet states (S22, S26, S30, S33 and S48) have local excitation character to some extent. Note that, there are typical charge redistributions for the C70 derivative, that is, one is charge transfer from the middle body to the bottom part (S27 state); the other is the stronger intramolecular CT from the top benzene of the C70 derivative to the bottom part (S32 state); the final kind of CT only occurs on inner C70 from the middle body of C70 to both sides of the upper and lower (S44 state).
Figure 3. Transition density (TD) and charge difference density (CDD) of polymer (n = 1 and n = 2).
Figure 3. Transition density (TD) and charge difference density (CDD) of polymer (n = 1 and n = 2).
Materials 08 00042 g003
Figure 4. Absorption spectra of [C70]PCBM.
Figure 4. Absorption spectra of [C70]PCBM.
Materials 08 00042 g004
Figure 5. Charge difference density (CDD) of [C70]PCBM, where the green and red stand for the hole and electron, respectively.
Figure 5. Charge difference density (CDD) of [C70]PCBM, where the green and red stand for the hole and electron, respectively.
Materials 08 00042 g005
The charge difference densities of [C60]PCBM/APFO3 and [C70]PCBM/APFO3 are shown in Figure 6, and transition energies and oscillator strengths are listed in Table 2. For [C60]PCBM/APFO3, its excited states are classed as three kinds of excitation, in which S1 and S3 states represent two typical locally excited states. Table 2 shows that the strongest absorption peak of [C60]PCBM/APFO3 corresponding to S3 state with f = 1.1259, and electron-hole pairs is located on APFO3 (for S3). This state is a local-excited state; however, intramolecular charge transfer takes places on the molecular skeleton of APFO3, which displays the same character as the CT states of APFO3 monomer. The S1, S2, S4–S9, S11, S13, S14, S15, S17–S20 states are local-excited states by exciting C60 (See Figure S2). Additionally the lowest intermolecular charge transfer excited state is the S10 state, peaking at 433 nm (Figure 6); this state can be expected to undergo a direct electron transfer from donor to acceptor, resulting in the charge separation. Similar CT excited states are found to be S12 and S16 states (See Figure S2).
Table 2. Calculated transition energies (eV, nm) and oscillator strengths (f) for [C60]PCBM/APFO3 and [C70]PCBM/APFO3, respectively.
Table 2. Calculated transition energies (eV, nm) and oscillator strengths (f) for [C60]PCBM/APFO3 and [C70]PCBM/APFO3, respectively.
States[C60]PCBM & APFO3[C70]PCBM& APFO3
eV (nm)feV (nm)f
Figure 6. Charge difference density (CDD) of [C60]PCBM/APFO3 and [C70]PCBM/APFO3, where the green and red stand for the hole and electron, respectively.
Figure 6. Charge difference density (CDD) of [C60]PCBM/APFO3 and [C70]PCBM/APFO3, where the green and red stand for the hole and electron, respectively.
Materials 08 00042 g006
For [70]PCBM/APFO3, the charge difference density in Figure 6 reveals that there are also three kinds of excited state: (a) local-excited state of C70 (S1, S4, S5–S8, S11, S12, S15–S20, see Figure S3); (b) an entire intermolecular CT state (S9, S10, S13, S14) and (c) an intramolecular CT state of APFO3coupled with local-excited states of [C70]PCBM (S2 and S3); the lowest intermolecular charge transfer excited state is the state S9, peaking at 444 nm.

3.3. Rate of Charge Transfer in the Marcus Theory

The rates of exciton dissociation and charge recombination were evaluated by the Marcus theory [38]:
k = 4 π 3 h 2 λ k B T | V D A | 2 exp ( ( Δ G + λ ) 2 4 λ k B T )
where λ is the reorganization energy, VDA is the electronic coupling (charge-transfer integral) between donor and acceptor, ΔG is the free energy change for the electron transfer reaction, kB is the Boltzmann constant, h is Planck’s constant, and T is the temperature (we set T = 300K in our calculations). Firstly, the Generalized Mulliken-Hush (GMH) model was used to estimate the charge transfer integral (electronic coupling matrix) [39]. In terms of the two states (S0 and Sn states) the formulation, electronic coupling matrix can be written as:
V D A = μ t r Δ E ( Δ μ ) 2 + 4 ( μ t r ) 2
This expression involves the energy difference ΔE and transition dipole moment μtr as well as the corresponding dipole moment difference Δμ between the initial and final electronic states. The Δμ in the above equation was calculated using the Hellmanne Feynman theorem, as the analytical derivative of the excited-state energy with respect to an applied electric field. For the dimer system of fullerene/polymer, the first charge transfer state for [70]PCBM/APFO3 and [C60]PCBM/APFO3 corresponding to the pure intermolecular charge transfer excited state identified as the fully charged separation state, pointed to the final state in order to obtain the electronic coupling. The transition energy dependent on the static electric field F can be expressed as [40]:
E e x c ( F ) = E e x c ( 0 ) Δ μ F 1 2 Δ α F 2
where E e x c ( 0 ) = Δ E is the excitation energy at zero field, Δα is the change in the polarizability. For the charge transfer state, Table 3 shows the fitted values of Δμ for [C60]PCBM/APFO3 and [C70]PCBM/APFO3 (13.39286 a.u. and 10.41667 a.u.), respectively. According to Equation (3), the electronic coupling strengths (VDA) are calculated to be 329.2 cm−1 (0.04081 eV) and 260.2 cm−1 (0.03226 eV), respectively.
Table 3. Calculated dipole moment of state-to-state and coupling strength.
Table 3. Calculated dipole moment of state-to-state and coupling strength.
ComplexStates Δ U (a.u.)U (a.u.)VDA (cm−1)
In the exciton dissociation and charge recombination, Δ G = Δ G C T and Δ G C R , respectively. The Δ G C R can be estimated with [41]:
Δ G C R = E I P ( D ) E E A ( A )
where E I P ( D ) and E E A ( A ) are the ionization potential of the donor and electron affinity of the acceptor, respectively. These quantities are normally estimated from the energies of the highest occupied molecular orbital and lowest unoccupied molecular orbital of the donor and acceptor [41] (see Table S1), respectively. The calculated ΔGCR are −1.81 eV for [C60]PCBM/APFO3 and −1.837 eV for [C70]PCBM/APFO3, as can be seen from Table 4, and negative values signify the process of electron recovery is spontaneous thermodynamically for these two systems. ΔGCT can be estimated by using the Rehm-Weller equation, Δ G C T = Δ G C R Δ E 0 0 , where Δ E 0 0 is the energy of the lowest excited state of free-base donor. The calculated Gibbs Free energy differences ΔGCT, are all negative values (see Table 4), which means that electron transfer is thermodynamically favorable for these two systems. There is a directly competitive process between intermoleular charge transfer and charge recombination, and thus it is expected to maximize intermoleular charge transfer and minimize charge recombination for designing high-efficiency solar cells.
Table 4. Dynamic parameters for [C60]PCBM/APFO3 and [C70]PCBM/APFO3.
Table 4. Dynamic parameters for [C60]PCBM/APFO3 and [C70]PCBM/APFO3.
ComplexΔ GCRλΔ GCTVDAKCT (×1013)KCR (×107)
Furthermore, to calculate reorganization energy λ, we optimized the charged APFO3 and fullerene derivatives, since the inner reorganization energy arises from the change in equilibrium geometry of the donor (D) and acceptor (A) sites consecutive to the gain or loss of electronic charge upon electron transfer. For the outer reorganization energy, it originates from the electronic and nuclear polarization/relaxation of the surrounding medium, which is not easy to estimate quantitatively in the solid state. So, the total reorganization energy in the calculations is adopted from experimental results. The energies of the neutral acceptor (A) at the anionic geometry and optimal ground-state geometry ( E ( A ) and E ( A ) , and subsequently the energies of the cation donor at the neutral geometry and optimal cation geometry ( E ( D ) and E ( D + ) ) were calculated only individually.
Table 4 shows the calculated inner reorganization energy, electronic coupling and Gibbs free energy difference. The charge transfer (KCT) and recombination rates (KCR) can be simulated from these parameters using Equation (2). When comparing APFO3/[C60]PCBM with APFO3/[C70]PCBM, it was found that the introduction of [C70]PCBM did not obviously increase the value of KCT (KCT = 3.2811×1013 s−1for [C60]PCBM/APFO3 and 2.0304 × 1013 s−1 for [C70]PCBM/APFO3) owing to the similar values of λ, ΔGCT and VDA. However, it obviously reduces the rate of charge recombination, and the value of KCR is calculated to be 0.13517 × 107 s−1 (for [C60]PCBM/APFO3) and 0.036515 × 107 s−1 (for [C70]PCBM/APFO3), respectively.

3.4. Effect of Electronic Field on CT Rate

The estimation of electronic field effect on the rate of CT requires information of the external electronic field dependent VDA and ΔG. When considering this kind of perturbation, the electronic field has influence on the free energy by means of additional change energy ΔμF (where μ and F represent the dipole moment of a radical pair and the strength of the external electronic field), and thus under the external electronic field, Δ G ( F 0 ) = Δ G ( F ) Δ u F (where F ≠ 0). The external electronic field dependent V D A ( F 0 ) can be induced by extending the GMH model: V D A ( F 0 ) = μ t r ( F ) Δ E ( F ) ( Δ μ F ) 2 + 4 ( μ t r ( F ) ) 2 . Inserting term of Δ G ( F 0 ) and V D A ( F 0 ) into Equation (2), we can rewrite the Marcus theory as:
k = 4 π 3 h 2 λ k B T | V D A ( F 0 ) | 2 exp ( ( Δ G ( F = 0 ) Δ u F + λ ) 2 4 λ k B T ) = 4 π 3 h 2 λ k B T | μ t r ( F ) Δ E ( F ) ( Δ μ F ) 2 + 4 ( μ t r ( F ) ) 2 | 2 exp ( ( Δ G ( F = 0 ) Δ u F + λ ) 2 4 λ k B T )
For estimating V D A ( F 0 ) , we calculated the transition energy and transition moments under the varied external electronic field, and fitting ΔμF, then get the value of VDA for the S9 excited state of [C70]PCBM/APFO3 because it is an (intermolecular charge transfer) ICT state. Figure 7 shows the relationship between electronic field and rate of charge transfer. For [C70]PCBM/APFO3, it was found that the rate of charge transfer is increased along with the external electronic field as a whole. In addition, we also discussed the effect of the individual values of VDA and ΔG on the rate of charge transfer. When only considering the effect of Δ μ F , the rate is almost unchanged with the external electronic field (see blue line in Figure 7), i.e., when F = 4 × 10−5 a.u., KCT = 2.0733 × 1013 S−1, and F = 12 × 10−5 a.u., KCT = 2.1141 × 1013 S−1). When only V D A ( F 0 ) is considered, the CT rate generally grows in response to the increase of the external electronic field. While for F = 4 × 10−5 and 8 × 10−5, the rate is approximately equal, and in a purely computational way the reason can be explained by the fact that the subequal values of transition energies and transition moments result in the very closed V D A ( F 0 ) . Noted that, along with the increasing electronic field, obviously the CT rate increases, that is, when F = 0, KCT = 2.0304 × 1013 S−1 and F = 12 × 10−5, KCT = 6.2186 × 1013 S−1). When the combination of V D A ( F 0 ) and Δ G ( F 0 ) , it was found that the strength and shape by simultaneously considering the two factors are similar with those under the condition of only V D A ( F 0 ) , which means that the influence of the electronic coupling matrix on the rate exerts a leading position.
Figure 7. Calculated rates of CT under different electronic fields (a.u.), where blue, red and blank lines are Δ G ( F 0 ) , V D A ( F 0 ) and combination of two factors, respectively.
Figure 7. Calculated rates of CT under different electronic fields (a.u.), where blue, red and blank lines are Δ G ( F 0 ) , V D A ( F 0 ) and combination of two factors, respectively.
Materials 08 00042 g007

4. Conclusions

We have theoretically studied the optical physics characteristics of individual APFO3, fullerene, [C60]PCBM/APFO3 and [C70]PCBM/APFO3. Molecular orbital energies show that the LUMO of [C70]PCBM is slightly higher than that of [C60]PCBM, and the LUMO of the binary system is closed to that of fullerenes. Additionally the HOMOs verge on HOMOs of APFO3, which leads to the fact that charge transfer controlled by transition from HOMO to LUMO can take place from APFO3 to fullerenes. For the C70 derivative, absorption spectra and charge difference density show that the absorption peak comes from the local excitation of C70 monomer, and there are three kinds of CT originating from intramolecular CT between C70 and the benzene ring and internal composition. Moreover, the excited states of [C60]PCBM/APFO3 and [C70]PCBM/APFO3 were studied, and locally excited states and charge transfer states were found with CDD analysis. Based on Marcus theory, the calculated rate of charge transfer is of a certain magnitude for [C60]PCBM/APFO3 and [C70]PCBM/APFO3, while the calculated recombination rate demonstrated the process of charge recombination is more likely to happen for the [C60]PCBM/APFO3 than the [C70]PCBM/APFO3. Upon introducing increasing electronic field, the free energy and electronic coupling matrix show a variety of different changes; however, it was found that the changed electronic coupling matrix under increasing electronic field may have even key impacts on the CT rate.

Supplementary Materials

Supplementary materials can be accessed at:


This work was supported by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (Grant No. 2572014CB31), Heilongjiang Provincial Youth Science Foundation (Grant Nos. QC2013C006 and QC2011C054) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 11404055 and 11374353).

Author Contributions

Yuanzuo Li formulated research ideas and wrote initial manuscript. Simulations, acquisition and analysis of data were performed by Yuanzuo Li, Dawei Qi and Peng Song; Peng Song and Fengcai Ma advised about the scientific meanings of this study and corrected the paper.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


  1. Lewis, N.S. Toward cost-effective solar energy use. Science 2007, 315, 798–801. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  2. Dong, H.L.; Zhu, H.F.; Meng, Q.; Gong, X.; Hu, W.P. Organic photoresponse materials and devices. Chem. Soc. Rev. 2012, 41, 1754–1808. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  3. Roes, A.L.; Alsema, E.A.; Blok, K.; Patel, M.K. Ex-ante environmental and economic evaluation of polymer photovoltaics. Prog. Photovolt. 2009, 17, 372–393. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  4. Darling, S.B.; You, F.Q. The case for organic photovoltaics. RSC Adv. 2013, 3, 17633–17648. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  5. Mihailetchi, V.D.; Xie, H.X.; Boer, B.; Koster, L.J.A.; Blom, P.W.M. Charge Transport and Photocurrent Generation in Poly(3-hexylthiophene): Methanofullerene Bulk-Heterojunction Solar Cells. Adv. Funct. Mater. 2006, 16, 699–708. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  6. Reiss, P.; Couderc, E.; De Girolamo, J.; Pron, A. Conjugated polymers/semiconductor nanocrystals hybrid materials-preparation, electrical transport properties and applications. Nanoscale 2011, 3, 446–489. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  7. Lyons, D.M.; Mohanraj, J.; Accorsi, G.; Armaroli, N.; Boyd, P.D.W. A supramolecular porphyrin-ferrocene-fullerene triad. New. J. Chem. 2011, 35, 632–639. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  8. Ranta, J.; Kumpulainen, T.; Lemmetyinen, H.; Efimov, A. Synthesis and characterization of monoisomeric 1,8,15,22-Substituted (A3B and A2B2) phthalocyanines and phthalocyanine-fullerene dyads. J. Org. Chem. 2010, 75, 5178–5194. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  9. Rodríguez-Morgade, M.S.; Plonska-Brzezinska, M.E.; Athans, A.J.; Carbonell, E.; Miguel, G.D.; Guldi, D.M.; Echegoyen, L.; Torres, T. Synthesis, characterization, and photoinduced electron transfer processes of orthogonal ruthenium phthalocyanine−fullerene assemblies. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2009, 131, 10484–10496. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  10. Sakai, J.; Kawano, K.; Yamanari, T.; Taima, T.; Yoshida, Y.; Fujii, A.; Ozaki, M. Efficient organic photovoltaic tandem cells with novel transparent conductive oxide interlayer and poly (3-hexylthiophene): Fullerene active layers. Solar Energy Mater. Solar Cells. 2010, 94, 376–380. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  11. Holmes, N.P.; Uluma, S.; Sista, P.; Burkea, K.B.; Wilsona, M.G.; Stefanb, M.C.; Zhou, X.J.; Dastoor, P.C.; Belcher, W.J. The effect of polymer molecular weight on P3HT:PCBM nanoparticulate organic photovoltaic device performance. Solar Energy Mater. Solar Cells. 2014, 128, 369–377. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  12. Zhao, G.J.; He, Y.J.; Li, Y.F. 6.5% Efficiency of polymer solar cells based on poly(3-hexylthiophene) and indene-C60 bisadduct by device optimization. Adv. Mater. 2010, 22, 4355–4358. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  13. Vandenbergh, J.; Conings, B.; Bertho, S.; Kesters, J.; Spoltore, D.; Esiner, S.; Zhao, J.; van Assche, G.; Wienk, M.M.; Maes, W.; et al. Thermal stability of poly[2-methoxy-5-(2′-phenylethoxy)-1,4-phenylenevinylene](MPE-PPV):Fullerene bulk heterojunction solar cells. Macromolecules 2011, 44, 8470–8478. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  14. Yamamoto, S.; Kimura, M. Extension of light-harvesting area of bulk-heterojunction solar cells by cosensitization with ring-expanded metallophthalocyanines fused with fluorene skeletons. ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2013, 5, 4367–4373. [Google Scholar] [PubMed]
  15. Petsalakis, I.D.; Tagmatarchis, N.; Theodorakopoulos, G. Theoretical study of fulleropyrrolidines by density functional and time-dependent density functional theory. J. Phys. Chem. C 2007, 111, 14139–14149. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  16. Shalabi, A.S.; Aal, S.A.; Assem, M.M.; Soliman, K.A. Metallophthalocyanine and Metallo phthalocyanine–fullerene complexes as potential dye sensitizers for solar cells DFT and TD-DFT. Org. Electron. 2012, 13, 2063–2074. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  17. Pelzer, K.M.; Chan, M.K.Y.; Gray, S.K.; Darling, S.B. Polaron Structure and Transport in Fullerene Materials: Insights from First-Principles Calculations. J. Phys. Chem. C 2014, 118, 21785–21797. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  18. Barszcz, B.; Laskowska, B.; Graja, A.; Park, E.Y.; Kim, T.D.; Lee, K.S. Electronic excitations of the fullerene–thiophene-derived dyads. Synth. Metals 2011, 161, 229–234. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  19. Li, Y.Z.; Ma, F.C.; Dong, B.; Lie, J.; Chen, M.D. Theoretical study of charge transfer mechanism in fullerene-phenyl-phenothiazine compound: A real-space analysis. Dyes Pigment. 2012, 92, 1344–1350. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  20. Zhang, S.; Li, Y.Z.; Liu, J.; Zhao, M.Y.; Han, Y.Y.; Ding, Y.; Song, P.; Ma, F.C. Theoretical evidence for the distance-dependent photoinduced electron transfer of porphyrin- ligothiophene-fullerene triads. Int. J. Photoenergy 2012. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  21. Pal, S.K.; Kesti, T.; Maiti, M.; Zhang, F.L.; Inganas, O.; Hellstrom, S.; Andersson, M.R.; Oswald, F.; Langa, F.; Sterman, T.O.; et al. Geminate charge recombination in polymer/fullerene bulk heterojunction films and implications for solar cell function. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2010, 132, 12440–12451. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  22. Frisch, M.J.; Trucks, G.W.; Schlegel, H.B.; Scuseria, G.E.; Robb, M.A.; Cheeseman, J.R.; Scalmani, G.; Barone, V.; Mennucci, B.; Petersson, G.A.; et al. Gaussian 09; Revision A.02; Gaussian Inc.: Wallingford, CT, USA, 2009. [Google Scholar]
  23. Li, Y.Z.; Pullerits, T.; Zhao, M.Y.; Sun, M.T. Theoretical characterization of the PC60BM: PDDTT model for an organic solar cell. J. Phys. Chem. C 2011, 115, 21865–21873. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  24. Liu, T.; Troisi, A. Absolute rate of charge separation and recombination in a molecular model of the P3HT/PCBM Interface. J. Phys. Chem. C 2011, 115, 2406–2415. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  25. Darling, S.B.; Sternberg, M. Importance of side chains and backbone length in defect modeling of poly(3-alkylthiophenes). J. Phys. Chem. B 2009, 113, 6215–6218. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  26. Dreizler, J.M.R.; Gross, E.K.U. Density Functional Theory; Springer-Verlag: Heidelberg, Germany, 1990. [Google Scholar]
  27. Becke, A.D. Density-functional exchange-energy approximation with correct asymptotic behavior. Phys. Rev. A 1988, 38, 3098–3100. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  28. Becke, A.D. Density-functional thermochemistry I the effect of the exchange-only gradient correction. J. Chem. Phys. 1992, 96, 2155–2160. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  29. Lee, C.; Yang, W.; Parr, R.G. Development of the colle-salvetti correlation-energy formula into a functional of the electron density. Phys. Rev. B 1998, 37, 785–789. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  30. Kleinman, D.A. Nonlinear dielectric polarization in optical media. Phys. Rev. 1962, 126, 1977–1979. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  31. Yanai, T.; Tew, D.P.; Handy, N.C. A new hybrid exchange-correlation functional using the Coulomb-Attenuating Method (CAM-B3LYP). Chem. Phys. Lett. 2004, 393, 51–57. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  32. Sun, M.T.; Kjellberg, P.; Beenken, W.J.D.; Pullerits, T. Comparison of the electronic structure of PPV and its derivative DIOXA-PPV. Chem. Phys. 2006, 327, 474–484. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  33. Beenken, W.J.D.; Pullerits, T. Spectroscopic units in conjugated polymers:  A quantum chemically founded concept. J. Phys. Chem. B. 2004, 108, 6164–6169. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  34. Sun, M.T.; Xu, H.X. Direct visualization of the chemical mechanism in SERRS of 4-Aminothiophenol/Metal complexes and Metal/4-Aminothiophenol/Metal junctions. ChemPhysChem 2009, 10, 392–399. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  35. Fang, Y.R.; Li, Y.Z.; Xu, H.X.; Sun, M.T. Ascertaining p,p′-Dimercaptoazobenzene produced from p-Aminothiophenol by selective catalytic coupling reaction on silver nanoparticles. Langmuir 2010, 26, 7737–7746. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  36. Oudar, J.L.; Chemla, D.S. Hyperpolarizabilities of the nitroanilines and their relations to the excited state dipole moment. J. Chem. Phys. 1977, 66, 2664–2668. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  37. Oudar, J.L. Optical nonlinearities of conjugated molecules. Stilbene derivatives and highly polar aromatic compounds. J. Chem. Phys. 1977, 67, 446–457. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  38. Marcus, R.A. Electron transfer reactions in chemistry: Theory and experiment. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 1993, 32, 1111–1121. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  39. Cave, R.J.; Newton, M.D. Generalization of the Mulliken-Hush treatment for the calculation of electron transfer matrix elements. Chem. Phys. Lett. 1996, 249, 15–19. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  40. Kjellberg, P.; He, Z.; Pullerits, T. Bacteriochlorophyll in Electric Field. J. Phys. Chem. B. 2003, 107, 13737–13742. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  41. Kavarnos, G.J.; Turro, N.J. Photosensitization by reversible electron transfer: Theories, experimental evidence, and examples. Chem. Rev. 1986, 86, 401–449. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]

Share and Cite

MDPI and ACS Style

Li, Y.; Qi, D.; Song, P.; Ma, F. Fullerene-Based Photoactive Layers for Heterojunction Solar Cells: Structure, Absorption Spectra and Charge Transfer Process. Materials 2015, 8, 42-56.

AMA Style

Li Y, Qi D, Song P, Ma F. Fullerene-Based Photoactive Layers for Heterojunction Solar Cells: Structure, Absorption Spectra and Charge Transfer Process. Materials. 2015; 8(1):42-56.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Li, Yuanzuo, Dawei Qi, Peng Song, and Fengcai Ma. 2015. "Fullerene-Based Photoactive Layers for Heterojunction Solar Cells: Structure, Absorption Spectra and Charge Transfer Process" Materials 8, no. 1: 42-56.

Article Metrics

Back to TopTop