Molecular helices as electron acceptors in high-performance bulk heterojunction solar cells

Yu Zhong, M. Tuan Trinh, Rongsheng Chen, Geoffrey E. Purdum, Petr P. Khlyabich, Melda Sezen, Seokjoon Oh, Haiming Zhu, Brandon Fowler, Boyuan Zhang, Wei Wang, Chang Yong Nam, Matthew Y. Sfeir, Charles T. Black, Michael L. Steigerwald, Yueh Lin Loo, Fay Ng, X. Y. Zhu, Colin Nuckolls

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

520 Scopus citations


Despite numerous organic semiconducting materials synthesized for organic photovoltaics in the past decade, fullerenes are widely used as electron acceptors in highly efficient bulk-heterojunction solar cells. None of the non-fullerene bulk heterojunction solar cells have achieved efficiencies as high as fullerene-based solar cells. Design principles for fullerene-free acceptors remain unclear in the field. Here we report examples of helical molecular semiconductors as electron acceptors that are on par with fullerene derivatives in efficient solar cells. We achieved an 8.3% power conversion efficiency in a solar cell, which is a record high for non-fullerene bulk heterojunctions. Femtosecond transient absorption spectroscopy revealed both electron and hole transfer processes at the donor-acceptor interfaces. Atomic force microscopy reveals a mesh-like network of acceptors with pores that are tens of nanometres in diameter for efficient exciton separation and charge transport. This study describes a new motif for designing highly efficient acceptors for organic solar cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8242
JournalNature communications
StatePublished - Sep 18 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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