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Front. Energy Res. | doi: 10.3389/fenrg.2018.00146

Elaboration of PCBM coated P3HT nanoparticles: understanding the shell formation

  • 1UMR5218 Laboratoire d'Integration du Materiau au Systeme (IMS), France
  • 2UMR5629 Laboratoire de Chimie des Polymères Organiques (LCPO), France
  • 3Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo, Japan

Solvent displacement, or nanoprecipitation, is a well-known process to develop colloidal dispersions in water. Using two successive and selective nanoprecipitation steps, we developed a method to generate [6,6]-phenyl-C61-butyric acid methyl ester (PCBM) shell on poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) core nanoparticles (P3HT@PCBM). We report herein on the understanding of the shell formation during this process. Using several techniques (dynamic light scattering, zeta-potential, photoluminescence), we evidenced that after the first solvent displacement with dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), the PCBM molecules still dissolved in the medium are already in close interaction with the P3HT nanoparticles (NP). Such proximity of the P3HT core with PCBM molecules in the DMSO dispersion explains why PCBM aggregates around the nanoparticles during the second solvent displacement with water. A fast electron transfer from P3HT to PCBM was identified by transient absorption spectroscopy, confirming the core-shell morphology even for low PCBM concentration. This study opens the route for the development of well-defined nano-objects dispersed in water for fabrication of organic photovoltaic devices with eco-friendly processes.

Keywords: organic photovoltaic (OPV), Nanoprecipitation, core-shell, Solvent displacement, transient absorption spectroscopy, Dynamic light scattering (DLS), Zeta potential (ZP)

Received: 02 Aug 2018; Accepted: 19 Dec 2018.

Edited by:

Amlan J. Pal, Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science, India

Reviewed by:

S Sundar Kumar Iyer, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, India
Furong Zhu, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong  

Copyright: © 2018 Palacio Valera, Schatz, Kubo, Segawa and Chambon. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Sylvain Chambon, UMR5218 Laboratoire d'Integration du Materiau au Systeme (IMS), Talence, 33405, Aquitaine, France,