Advanced Polymers for Solar Cells Applications

A special issue of Polymers (ISSN 2073-4360). This special issue belongs to the section "Polymer Applications".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (25 October 2023) | Viewed by 26864

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering, Gachon University, Seongnam, Republic of Korea
Interests: organic solar cells; nanomaterials; hydrogen evolution reactions; transition metal chalcogenides

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Environment and Energy, Sejong University, Seoul 05006, Republic of Korea
Interests: 2D nanomaterials; nanomaterial synthesis; photocatalytic; environmental treatment; antimicrobial

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Polymer solar cell have been considered as one of new generations for solar harvesting devices, owing many benefits such as high flexibility, low toxicity, low cost of the roll-to-roll fabrication process and rapid energy payback time. Since the first investigation of polymer solar cell, there are numerous studies have achieved the stability, power conversion efficiency beyond 17% based on the development of active material, hole-electron transport layer and new configuration of devices structure. In this Special Issue on “Advanced Polymers for Solar Cells Applications” will include both progress in the synthesis of donor, acceptor materials, active materials, and design device structure. The contribution of experimental and computational works will describe the state-of-art progress in developing the new approaches to enhance the stability, conductivity, photoactivity of materials and power conversion efficiency of organic solar cells.

Dr. Thang Phan Nguyen
Dr. Vu Khac Hoang Bui
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • polymer solar cell
  • donor materials
  • acceptor materials
  • photoactive layer
  • energy barriers
  • interface engineering
  • buffer layer
  • work function
  • device configuration

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

Jump to: Review

18 pages, 9298 KiB  
Article
Anionic Effect on Electrical Transport Properties of Solid Co2+/3+ Redox Mediators
by Ravindra Kumar Gupta, Ahamad Imran and Aslam Khan
Polymers 2024, 16(10), 1436; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym16101436 - 19 May 2024
Viewed by 480
Abstract
In a solid-state dye-sensitized solar cell, a fast-ion conducting (σ25°C > 10−4 S cm−1) solid redox mediator (SRM; electrolyte) helps in fast dye regeneration and back-electron transfer inhibition. In this work, we synthesized solid Co2+/3+ redox mediators using [...] Read more.
In a solid-state dye-sensitized solar cell, a fast-ion conducting (σ25°C > 10−4 S cm−1) solid redox mediator (SRM; electrolyte) helps in fast dye regeneration and back-electron transfer inhibition. In this work, we synthesized solid Co2+/3+ redox mediators using a [(1 − x)succinonitrile: x poly(ethylene oxide)] matrix, LiX, Co(tris-2,2′-bipyridine)3(bis(trifluoromethyl) sulfonylimide)2, and Co(tris-2,2′-bipyridine)3(bis(trifluoromethyl) sulfonylimide)3 via the solution-cast method, and the results were compared with those of their acetonitrile-based liquid counterparts. The notation x is a weight fraction (=0, 0.5, and 1), and X represents an anion. The anion was either bis(trifluoromethyl) sulfonylimide [TFSI; ionic size, 0.79 nm] or trifluoromethanesulfonate [Triflate; ionic size, 0.44 nm]. The delocalized electrons and a low value of lattice energy for the anions made the lithium salts highly dissociable in the matrix. The electrolytes exhibited σ25°C ≈ 2.1 × 10−3 (1.5 × 10−3), 7.2 × 10−4 (3.1 × 10−4), and 9.7 × 10−7 (6.3 × 10−7) S cm−1 for x = 0, 0.5, and 1, respectively, with X = TFSI (Triflate) ions. The log σ–T−1 plot portrayed a linear curve for x = 0 and 1, and a downward curve for x = 0.5. The electrical transport study showed σ(TFSI) > σ(Triflate), with lower activation energy for TFSI ions. The anionic effect increased from x = 0 to 1. This effect was explained using conventional techniques, such as Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), X-ray diffractometry (XRD), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), UV–visible spectroscopy (UV-vis), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), and thermogravimetric analysis (TGA). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Polymers for Solar Cells Applications)
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13 pages, 2694 KiB  
Article
An Investigation of the Inverted Structure of a PBDB:T/PZT:C1-Based Polymer Solar Cell
by Tahani I. Al-Muhimeed, Shareefah Alahmari, Muhammad Ahsan and Mostafa M. Salah
Polymers 2023, 15(24), 4623; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15244623 - 5 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1007
Abstract
Based on experimental results, this theoretical study presents a new approach for investigating polymers’ solar cells. P-type PZT:C1 and N-type PBDB:T were used to construct a blend for use as a photoactive layer for the proposed all-polymer solar cell. Initially, an architecture of [...] Read more.
Based on experimental results, this theoretical study presents a new approach for investigating polymers’ solar cells. P-type PZT:C1 and N-type PBDB:T were used to construct a blend for use as a photoactive layer for the proposed all-polymer solar cell. Initially, an architecture of an ITO/PEDOT:PSS/PBDB:T/PZT:C1/PFN-Br/Ag all-polymer solar device calibrated with experimental results achieved a PCE of 14.91%. A novel inverted architecture of the same solar device, proposed for the first time in this paper, achieved a superior PCE of 19.92%. Furthermore, the optimization of the doping of the transport layers is proposed in this paper. Moreover, the defect density and the thickness of the polymer are studied, and a PCE of 22.67% was achieved by the optimized cell, which is one of the highest PCEs of polymer solar devices. Finally, the optimized polymer solar cell showed good stability amidst temperature variations. This theoretical study sheds light on the inverted structure of all-polymer solar devices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Polymers for Solar Cells Applications)
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14 pages, 2860 KiB  
Article
TCAD Device Simulation of All-Polymer Solar Cells for Indoor Applications: Potential for Tandem vs. Single Junction Cells
by Tarek I. Alanazi
Polymers 2023, 15(9), 2217; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15092217 - 8 May 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1798
Abstract
The utilization of indoor photovoltaics makes it feasible to harvest energy from artificial light sources. Although single-junction indoor photovoltaics have demonstrated exceptional efficacy when using LED lighting, there is still a need for more comprehensive testing of tandem structures. Herein, the first systematic [...] Read more.
The utilization of indoor photovoltaics makes it feasible to harvest energy from artificial light sources. Although single-junction indoor photovoltaics have demonstrated exceptional efficacy when using LED lighting, there is still a need for more comprehensive testing of tandem structures. Herein, the first systematic TCAD simulation study on the potential for tandem all-polymer solar cells (all-PSCs) for indoor applications is provided. The presented all-PSCs are based on experimental work in which the top wide bandgap subcell comprises a polymer blend PM7:PIDT, while the bottom narrow bandgap subcell has a polymer blend PM6:PY-IT. Standalone and tandem cells are simulated under AM1.5G solar radiation, and the simulation results are compared with measurements to calibrate the physical models and material parameters revealing PCE values of 10.11%, 16.50%, and 17.58% for the front, rear, and tandem cells, respectively. Next, we assessed the performance characteristics of the three cells under a white LED environment for different color temperatures and light intensities. The results showed a superior performance of the front cell, while a deterioration in the performance was observed for the tandem cell, reflecting in a lower PCE of 16.22% at a color temperature of 2900 K. Thus, an optimized tandem for outdoor applications was not suitable for indoor conditions. In order to alleviate this issue, we propose designing the tandem for indoor lightening by an appropriate choice of thicknesses of the top and bottom absorber layers in order to achieve the current matching point. Reducing the top absorber thickness while slightly increasing the bottom thickness resulted in a higher PCE of 27.80% at 2900 K. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Polymers for Solar Cells Applications)
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15 pages, 5143 KiB  
Article
Investigation of Polymer/Si Thin Film Tandem Solar Cell Using TCAD Numerical Simulation
by Mohamed Okil, Ahmed Shaker, Mostafa M. Salah, Tarek M. Abdolkader and Ibrahim S. Ahmed
Polymers 2023, 15(9), 2049; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15092049 - 26 Apr 2023
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2208
Abstract
The current study introduces a two-terminal (2T) thin-film tandem solar cell (TSC) comprised of a polymer-based top sub cell and a thin crystalline silicon (c-Si) bottom sub cell. The photoactive layer of the top sub cell is a blend of PDTBTBz-2F as a [...] Read more.
The current study introduces a two-terminal (2T) thin-film tandem solar cell (TSC) comprised of a polymer-based top sub cell and a thin crystalline silicon (c-Si) bottom sub cell. The photoactive layer of the top sub cell is a blend of PDTBTBz-2F as a polymer donor and PC71BM as a fullerene acceptor. Initially, a calibration of the two sub cells is carried out against experimental studies, providing a power conversion efficiency (PCE) of 9.88% for the top sub cell and 14.26% for the bottom sub cell. Upon incorporating both sub cells in a polymer/Si TSC, the resulting cell shows a PCE of 20.45% and a short circuit current density (Jsc) of 13.40 mA/cm2. Then, we optimize the tandem performance by controlling the valence band offset (VBO) of the polymer top cell. Furthermore, we investigate the impact of varying the top absorber defect density and the thicknesses of both absorber layers in an attempt to obtain the maximum obtainable PCE. After optimizing the tandem cell and at the designed current matching condition, the Jsc and PCE of the tandem cell are improved to 16.43 mA/cm2 and 28.41%, respectively. Based on this TCAD simulation study, a tandem configuration established from an all thin-film model may be feasible for wearable electronics applications. All simulations utilize the Silvaco Atlas package where the cells are subjected to standard one Sun (AM1.5G, 1000 W/m2) spectrum illumination. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Polymers for Solar Cells Applications)
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17 pages, 5361 KiB  
Article
Proposal and Design of Flexible All-Polymer/CIGS Tandem Solar Cell
by Tarek I. Alanazi and Mona El Sabbagh
Polymers 2023, 15(8), 1823; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15081823 - 8 Apr 2023
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1715
Abstract
Tandem solar cells (TSCs) have attracted prodigious attention for their high efficiency, which can surmount the Shockley–Queisser limit for single-junction solar cells. Flexible TSCs are lightweight and cost-effective, and are considered a promising approach for a wide range of applications. In this paper, [...] Read more.
Tandem solar cells (TSCs) have attracted prodigious attention for their high efficiency, which can surmount the Shockley–Queisser limit for single-junction solar cells. Flexible TSCs are lightweight and cost-effective, and are considered a promising approach for a wide range of applications. In this paper, a numerical model, based on TCAD simulation, is presented to assess the performance of a novel two-terminal (2T) all-polymer/CIGS TSC. To confirm the model, the obtained simulation results were compared with standalone fabricated all-polymer and CIGS single solar cells. Common properties of the polymer and CIGS complementary candidates are their non-toxicity and flexibility. The initial top all-polymer solar cell had a photoactive blend layer (PM7:PIDT), the optical bandgap of which was 1.76 eV, and the initial bottom cell had a photoactive CIGS layer, with a bandgap of 1.15 eV. The simulation was then carried out on the initially connected cells, revealing a power conversion efficiency (PCE) of 16.77%. Next, some optimization techniques were applied to enhance the tandem performance. Upon treating the band alignment, the PCE became 18.57%, while the optimization of polymer and CIGS thicknesses showed the best performance, reflected by a PCE of 22.73%. Moreover, it was found that the condition of current matching did not necessarily meet the maximum PCE condition, signifying the essential role of full optoelectronic simulations. All TCAD simulations were performed via an Atlas device simulator, where the light illumination was AM1.5G. The current study can offer design strategies and effective suggestions for flexible thin-film TSCs for potential applications in wearable electronics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Polymers for Solar Cells Applications)
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14 pages, 2789 KiB  
Article
Device Modeling of Efficient PBDB-T:PZT-Based All-Polymer Solar Cell: Role of Band Alignment
by Marwa S. Salem, Ahmed Shaker and Mostafa Mohamed Salah
Polymers 2023, 15(4), 869; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15040869 - 9 Feb 2023
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 2023
Abstract
In this study, we present some design suggestions for all-polymer solar cells by utilizing device simulation. The polymer solar cell under investigation is formed by a photoactive film of a blend comprising PBDB-T as a polymer donor and PZT as a polymerized small [...] Read more.
In this study, we present some design suggestions for all-polymer solar cells by utilizing device simulation. The polymer solar cell under investigation is formed by a photoactive film of a blend comprising PBDB-T as a polymer donor and PZT as a polymerized small molecule acceptor. The initial cell is based on a fabricated cell whose structure is ITO/PEDOT:PSS/PBDB-T:PZT/PFN-Br/Ag, which has a power conversion efficiency (PCE) of about 14.9%. A calibration procedure is then performed by comparing the simulation results with experimental data to confirm the simulation models, and the material parameters, implemented in the SCAPS (Solar Cell Capacitance Simulator) simulator. To boost the open circuit voltage, we investigate a group of hole transport layer (HTL) materials. An HTL of CuI or P3HT, that may replace the PEDOT:PSS, results in a PCE of higher than 20%. However, this enhanced efficiency results in a minor S-shape curve in the current density-voltage (J-V) characteristic. So, to suppress the possibility of the appearance of an S-curve, we propose a double HTL structure, for which the simulation shows a higher PCE with a suppressed kink phenomenon due to the proper band alignment. Moreover, the designed cell is investigated when subjected to a low light intensity, and the cell shows a good performance, signifying the cell’s suitability for indoor applications. The results of this simulation study can add to the potential development of highly efficient all-polymer solar cells. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Polymers for Solar Cells Applications)
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15 pages, 3940 KiB  
Article
Full Optoelectronic Simulation of Lead-Free Perovskite/Organic Tandem Solar Cells
by Marwa S. Salem, Ahmed Shaker, Mohamed Abouelatta and Ahmed Saeed
Polymers 2023, 15(3), 784; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15030784 - 3 Feb 2023
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 3026
Abstract
Organic and perovskite semiconductor materials are considered an interesting combination thanks to their similar processing technologies and band gap tunability. Here, we present the design and analysis of perovskite/organic tandem solar cells (TSCs) by using a full optoelectronic simulator (SETFOS). A wide band [...] Read more.
Organic and perovskite semiconductor materials are considered an interesting combination thanks to their similar processing technologies and band gap tunability. Here, we present the design and analysis of perovskite/organic tandem solar cells (TSCs) by using a full optoelectronic simulator (SETFOS). A wide band gap lead-free ASnI2Br perovskite top subcell is utilized in conjunction with a narrow band gap DPPEZnP-TBO:PC61BM heterojunction organic bottom subcell to form the tandem configuration. The top and bottom cells were designed according to previous experimental work keeping the same materials and physical parameters. The calibration of the two cells regarding simulation and experimental data shows very good agreement, implying the validation of the simulation process. Accordingly, the two cells are combined to develop a 2T tandem cell. Further, upon optimizing the thickness of the front and rear subcells, a current matching condition is satisfied for which the proposed perovskite/organic TSC achieves an efficiency of 13.32%, Jsc of 13.74 mA/cm2, and Voc of 1.486 V. On the other hand, when optimizing the tandem by utilizing full optoelectronic simulation, the tandem shows a higher efficiency of about 14%, although it achieves a decreased Jsc of 12.27 mA/cm2. The study shows that the efficiency can be further improved when concurrently optimizing the various tandem layers by global optimization routines. Furthermore, the impact of defects is demonstrated to highlight other possible routes to improve efficiency. The current simulation study can provide a physical understanding and potential directions for further efficiency improvement for lead-free perovskite/organic TSC. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Polymers for Solar Cells Applications)
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12 pages, 5612 KiB  
Article
High Performance Polymer Solar Cells Using Grating Nanostructure and Plasmonic Nanoparticles
by Ali Elrashidi and Khaled Elleithy
Polymers 2022, 14(5), 862; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym14050862 - 22 Feb 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2104
Abstract
This work introduces a high-efficiency organic solar cell with grating nanostructure in both hole and electron transport layers and plasmonic gold nanoparticles (Au NPs) distributed on the zinc oxide (ZnO) layer. The periods of the grating structure in both hole and electro transport [...] Read more.
This work introduces a high-efficiency organic solar cell with grating nanostructure in both hole and electron transport layers and plasmonic gold nanoparticles (Au NPs) distributed on the zinc oxide (ZnO) layer. The periods of the grating structure in both hole and electro transport layers were optimized using Lumerical finite difference time domain (FDTD) solution software. The optimum AuNP radius distributed on the ZnO layer was also simulated and analyzed before studying the effect of changing the temperature on the solar cell performance, fill factor, and power conversion efficiency. In addition, optical and electrical models were used to calculate the short circuit current density, fill factor, and overall efficiency of the produced polymer solar cell nanostructure. The maximum obtained short circuit current density and efficiency of the solar cell were 18.11 mA/cm2 and 9.46%, respectively, which gives a high light absorption in the visible region. Furthermore, the effect of light polarization for incident light angles from θ = 0° to 70° with step angle 10° on the electrical and optical parameters were also studied. Finally, optical power, electric field, and magnetic field distribution inside the nanostructure are also illustrated. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Polymers for Solar Cells Applications)
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Review

Jump to: Research

29 pages, 4038 KiB  
Review
Advances in Hole Transport Materials for Layered Casting Solar Cells
by Vu Khac Hoang Bui and Thang Phan Nguyen
Polymers 2023, 15(22), 4443; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15224443 - 17 Nov 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2092
Abstract
Huge energy consumption and running out of fossil fuels has led to the advancement of renewable sources of power, including solar, wind, and tide. Among them, solar cells have been well developed with the significant achievement of silicon solar panels, which are popularly [...] Read more.
Huge energy consumption and running out of fossil fuels has led to the advancement of renewable sources of power, including solar, wind, and tide. Among them, solar cells have been well developed with the significant achievement of silicon solar panels, which are popularly used as windows, rooftops, public lights, etc. In order to advance the application of solar cells, a flexible type is highly required, such as layered casting solar cells (LCSCs). Organic solar cells (OSCs), perovskite solar cells (PSCs), or dye-sensitive solar cells (DSSCs) are promising LCSCs for broadening the application of solar energy to many types of surfaces. LCSCs would be cost-effective, enable large-scale production, are highly efficient, and stable. Each layer of an LCSC is important for building the complete structure of a solar cell. Within the cell structure (active material, charge carrier transport layer, electrodes), hole transport layers (HTLs) play an important role in transporting holes to the anode. Recently, diverse HTLs from inorganic, organic, and organometallic materials have emerged to have a great impact on the stability, lifetime, and performance of OSC, PSC, or DSSC devices. This review summarizes the recent advances in the development of inorganic, organic, and organometallic HTLs for solar cells. Perspectives and challenges for HTL development and improvement are also highlighted. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Polymers for Solar Cells Applications)
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29 pages, 9361 KiB  
Review
Recent Advances in UV-Cured Encapsulation for Stable and Durable Perovskite Solar Cell Devices
by Mengyu Cao, Wenxi Ji, Cong Chao, Ji Li, Fei Dai and Xianfeng Fan
Polymers 2023, 15(19), 3911; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15193911 - 28 Sep 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3087
Abstract
The stability and durability of perovskite solar cells (PSCs) are two main challenges retarding their industrial commercialization. The encapsulation of PSCs is a critical process that improves the stability of PSC devices for practical applications, and intrinsic stability improvement relies on materials optimization. [...] Read more.
The stability and durability of perovskite solar cells (PSCs) are two main challenges retarding their industrial commercialization. The encapsulation of PSCs is a critical process that improves the stability of PSC devices for practical applications, and intrinsic stability improvement relies on materials optimization. Among all encapsulation materials, UV-curable resins are promising materials for PSC encapsulation due to their short curing time, low shrinkage, and good adhesion to various substrates. In this review, the requirements for PSC encapsulation materials and the advantages of UV-curable resins are firstly critically assessed based on a discussion of the PSC degradation mechanism. Recent advances in improving the encapsulation performance are reviewed from the perspectives of molecular modification, encapsulation materials, and corresponding architecture design while highlighting excellent representative works. Finally, the concluding remarks summarize promising research directions and remaining challenges for the use of UV-curable resins in encapsulation. Potential solutions to current challenges are proposed to inspire future work devoted to transitioning PSCs from the lab to practical application. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Polymers for Solar Cells Applications)
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38 pages, 8219 KiB  
Review
A Mini Review on the Development of Conjugated Polymers: Steps towards the Commercialization of Organic Solar Cells
by Ahmed G. S. Al-Azzawi, Shujahadeen B. Aziz, Elham M. A. Dannoun, Ahmed Iraqi, Muaffaq M. Nofal, Ary R. Murad and Ahang M. Hussein
Polymers 2023, 15(1), 164; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15010164 - 29 Dec 2022
Cited by 19 | Viewed by 5094
Abstract
This review article covers the synthesis and design of conjugated polymers for carefully adjusting energy levels and energy band gap (EBG) to achieve the desired photovoltaic performance. The formation of bonds and the delocalization of electrons over conjugated chains are both explained by [...] Read more.
This review article covers the synthesis and design of conjugated polymers for carefully adjusting energy levels and energy band gap (EBG) to achieve the desired photovoltaic performance. The formation of bonds and the delocalization of electrons over conjugated chains are both explained by the molecular orbital theory (MOT). The intrinsic characteristics that classify conjugated polymers as semiconducting materials come from the EBG of organic molecules. A quinoid mesomeric structure (D-A ↔ D+ = A) forms across the major backbones of the polymer as a result of alternating donor–acceptor segments contributing to the pull–push driving force between neighboring units, resulting in a smaller optical EBG. Furthermore, one of the most crucial factors in achieving excellent performance of the polymer is improving the morphology of the active layer. In order to improve exciton diffusion, dissociation, and charge transport, the nanoscale morphology ensures nanometer phase separation between donor and acceptor components in the active layer. It was demonstrated that because of the exciton’s short lifetime, only small diffusion distances (10–20 nm) are needed for all photo-generated excitons to reach the interfacial region where they can separate into free charge carriers. There is a comprehensive explanation of the architecture of organic solar cells using single layer, bilayer, and bulk heterojunction (BHJ) devices. The short circuit current density (Jsc), open circuit voltage (Voc), and fill factor (FF) all have a significant impact on the performance of organic solar cells (OSCs). Since the BHJ concept was first proposed, significant advancement and quick configuration development of these devices have been accomplished. Due to their ability to combine great optical and electronic properties with strong thermal and chemical stability, conjugated polymers are unique semiconducting materials that are used in a wide range of applications. According to the fundamental operating theories of OSCs, unlike inorganic semiconductors such as silicon solar cells, organic photovoltaic devices are unable to produce free carrier charges (holes and electrons). To overcome the Coulombic attraction and separate the excitons into free charges in the interfacial region, organic semiconductors require an additional thermodynamic driving force. From the molecular engineering of conjugated polymers, it was discovered that the most crucial obstacles to achieving the most desirable properties are the design and synthesis of conjugated polymers toward optimal p-type materials. Along with plastic solar cells (PSCs), these materials have extended to a number of different applications such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and field-effect transistors (FETs). Additionally, the topics of fluorene and carbazole as donor units in conjugated polymers are covered. The Stille, Suzuki, and Sonogashira coupling reactions widely used to synthesize alternating D–A copolymers are also presented. Moreover, conjugated polymers based on anthracene that can be used in solar cells are covered. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Polymers for Solar Cells Applications)
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