Supramolecular block copolymer photovoltaics through ureido-pyrimidinone hydrogen bonding interactions†
A challenge in the development of bulk heterojunction organic photovoltaics (BHJ OPVs) is achieving a desirable nanoscale morphology. This is particularly true for polymer blend OPVs in which large-scale phase separation occurs during processing. Here, we present a versatile approach to control the morphology in polymer blend OPVs through incorporation of self-associating 4 2-ureido-4[1H]-pyrimidinone (UPy) endgroups onto donor and acceptor conjugated polymers. These UPy functionalized polymers associate to form supramolecular block copolymers during solution blending and film casting. Atomic force microscopy measurements show that supramolecular associations can improve film uniformity. We find that the performance of supramolecular block copolymer OPVs improves from 0.45% to 0.77% relative to the non-associating conjugated polymer blends at the same 155 °C annealing conditions. Impedance measurements reveal that UPy endgroups both increase the resistance for charge recombination and for bulk charge transport. This work represents a versatile approach to reducing large-scale phase separation in polymer–polymer blends and directing the morphology through supramolecular interactions.