Highly efficient fullerene and non-fullerene based ternary organic solar cells incorporating a new tetrathiocin-cored semiconductor

A new dual-chain oligothiophene-based organic semiconductor, EH-5T-TTC, is presented. The molecule contains two conjugated chains linked by a fused tetrathiocin core. X-ray crystallography reveals a boat conformation within the 8-membered sulfur heterocycle core and extensive p–p and intermolecular sulfur–sulfur interactions in the bulk, leading to a 2-dimensional structure. This unusual molecule has been studied as a ternary component in organic solar cell blends containing the electron donor PTB7-Th and both fullerene (PC71BM) and non-fullerene acceptors ITIC and EH-IDTBR. By incorporating EH-5TTTC as a ternary component, the power conversion efficiency of the binary blends containing nonfullerene acceptor increases by 17% (from 7.8% to 9.2%) and by 85% for the binary blend with fullerene acceptor (from 3.3% to 6.3%). Detailed characterisation of the ternary blend systems implies that the ternary small molecule EH-5T-TTC functions differently in polymer:fullerene and polymer:non-fullerene blends and has dual functions of morphology modification and complementary spectral absorption.