Effect of Benzothiadiazole-Based π-Spacers on Fine-Tuning of Optoelectronic Properties of Oligothiophene-Core Donor Materials for Efficient Organic Solar Cells: A DFT Study

Zaier R., Martel A. and Antosiewicz T.J.

Journal of Physical Chemistry A

127(50), 2023, 10555-10569, 10.1021/acs.jpca.3c04866

In this work, five novel A-π-D-π-A type molecules D1–D5 were designed by adding unusual benzothiadiazole derivatives as π-spacer blocks to the efficient reference molecule DRCN5T for application as donor materials in organic solar cells (OSCs). Based on a density functional theory approach, a comprehensive theoretical study was performed with different functionals (B3LYP, B3LYP-GD3, B3LYP-GD3BJ, CAM-B3LYP, M06, M062X, and wB97XD) and with different solvent types (PCM and SMD) at the extended basis set 6-311+g(d,p) to evaluate the structural, optoelectronic, and intramolecular charge transfer properties of these molecules. The B3LYP-GD3BJ hybrid functional was used to optimize the studied molecules in CHCl3 solution with the SMD model solvent as it provided the best results compared to experimental data. Transition density matrix maps were simulated to examine the hole–electron localization and the electronic excitation processes in the excited state, and photovoltaic parameters including open-circuit photovoltage and fill factor were investigated to predict the efficiency of these materials. All the designed materials showed promising optoelectronic and photovoltaic characteristics, and for most of them, a red shift. Out of the proposed molecules, [1,2,5]thiadiazolo[3,4-d]pyridazine was selected as a promising π-spacer block to evaluate its interaction with PC61BM in a composite to understand the charge transfer between the donor and acceptor subparts. Overall, this study showed that adding π-spacer building blocks to the molecular structure is undoubtedly a potential strategy to further enhance the performance of donor materials for OSC applications.