Aqueous-Soluble Naphthalene Diimide-Based Polymer Acceptors for Efficient and Air-Stable All-Polymer Solar Cells

Seungjin Lee, Youngwoong Kim, Ziang Wu, Changyeon Lee, Seung Jin Oh, Nguyen Thanh Luan, Junbok Lee, Dahyun Jeong, Kai Zhang, Fei Huang, Taek Soo Kim, Han Young Woo, Bumjoon J. Kim

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37 Citations (Scopus)


Aqueous-processed all-polymer solar cells (aq-APSCs) are reported for the first time by developing a series of water/ethanol-soluble naphthalenediimide (NDI)-based polymer acceptors [P(NDIDEG-T), P(NDITEG-T), and P(NDITEG-T2)]. Polymer acceptors are designed by using the backbones of NDI-bithiophene and NDI-thiophene in combination with nonionic hydrophilic oligoethylene glycol (OEG) side chains that facilitate processability in water/ethanol mixtures. All three polymers exhibit sufficient solubility (20-50 mg mL-1) in the aqueous medium. The P(NDIDEG-T) polymer with shorter OEG side chains is the most crystalline with the highest electron mobility, enabling the fabrication of efficient aq-APSCs with the maximum power conversion efficiency (PCE) of 2.15%. Furthermore, these aq-APSCs are fabricated under ambient atmosphere by taking advantage of the eco-friendly aqueous process and, importantly, the devices exhibit outstanding air-stability without any encapsulation, as evident by maintaining more than 90% of the initial PCE in the air after 4 days. According to a double cantilever beam test, the interfacial adhesion properties between the active layer and electron/hole transporting layers were remarkably improved by incorporating the hydrophilic OEG-attached photoactive layer, which hinders the delamination of the constituent layers and prevents the increase of series resistance, ultimately leading to enhanced durability under ambient conditions. The combination of increased device stability and minimal environmental impact of these aq-APSCs demonstrates them to be worthy candidates for continued development of scalable polymer solar cells.

Original languageEnglish
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the National Research Foundation (NRF) Grant (2017M3A7B8065584, 2012M3A6A7055540, 2019R1A2C2085290), funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT, Republic of Korea. This research is additionally supported by the Research Project of the KAIST-KUSTAR. H.Y.W. is grateful for the financial support from Korea University (KU future research grant). This research used resources of the Advanced Light Source, which is a Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility under contract no. DE-AC02-05CH11231. We acknowledge Dr. C. Wang for the assistance in the RSoXS measurement and Dr. G. S. Collier for the helpful discussion.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Chemical Society.


  • air-stability
  • all-polymer solar cells
  • aqueous process
  • eco-friendly solution process
  • oligoethylene glycol (OEG) side chain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science


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