Natures of optical absorption transitions and excitation energy dependent photostability of diketopyrrolopyrrole (DPP)-based photovoltaic copolymers†
Donor–acceptor copolymers are an important class of conjugated polymer on account of their chemically tunable energy levels and ambipolar charge transport properties. These materials typically exhibit two strong absorption bands in the UV-visible range, whose natures have previously been explored using theoretical analyses. In this work, we experimentally elucidate the electronic origins of these transitions and consider their effects on photostability using resonant Raman spectroscopy and transient absorption spectroscopy. In particular, we identify two dominant electronic transitions for a material comprising diketopyrrolopyrrole (DPP) acceptor and selenophene donor units: a strong transition at low energy (520–1150 nm) that is localised within the DPP unit, and a much weaker transition at higher energy (320–520 nm) that is delocalised along the conjugated backbone of both the DPP and selenophene units. The polymer is found to have good photostability under prolonged excitation in the low energy absorption band, but is much less stable to higher energy excitation. In this latter case, the selenophene ring is identified as the photodegradation site. These effects are correlated with ultrafast transient absorption spectroscopy results, which associate the photodegradation with a higher yield of polaron pairs arising from excitation of the higher energy transition. Our findings provide insight into the design of photostable low energy gap conjugated copolymers for application in organic photovoltaic devices and demonstrate a specific vulnerability of the selenophene donor unit.