Direct Solution Processing of Fullerene C60 with Branched Polyethylene Towards Improved Organic Electronics

Organic solar cells are promising sources of renewable energy, with the added benefit of mechanical flexibility making them particularly desirable for many applications compared to traditional silicon solar cells. However, high cost and low efficiency has thus far hindered the commercialization of organic devices, restricting their development to academic research labs. One of the carbon-based materials most widely utilized in the active layer of organic solar cells, C60, has desirable electronic properties but requires costly deposition methods to fabricate into thin films for electronic devices. Covalently functionalized derivatives have been developed which can be coated into films using inexpensive methods, however this approach increases the material costs significantly. In this project, we will utilize straightforward non-covalent chemistry to functionalize C60 with an inexpensive polyethylene, to enhance the material’s solubility and facilitate solution coating. The polyethylene is a proprietary material developed by PolyAnalytik Inc, and is currently undergoing evaluation for several applications. Solution processing is an economical and scalable method of preparing thin films for electronic devices, and non-covalent functionalization provides an inexpensive route to access soluble C60 derivatives. Organic solar cells will be fabricated with the newly developed functional C60/polyethylene, laying the groundwork for subsequent commercialization efforts by PolyAnalytik Inc. to market their polyethylene as a solubilizing additive for the advanced manufacturing of emerging organic electronic devices.

Adam Pollit
Faculty Supervisor: 
Simon Rondeau-Gagné
Partner University: