Semiconducting nanocrystals, conjugated polymers, and conjugated polymer/nanocrystal nanohybrids and their usage in solar cells

Lei Zhao, Jun Wang, Zhiqun Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


As one of the major renewable energy sources, solar energy has the potential to become an essential component of future global energy production. With the increasing demand in energy, the harvesting of solar energy using inexpensive materials and manufacturing methods has attracted considerable attention. Organic/inorganic (i.e., conjugated polymer/nanocrystal (CP/NC)) nanohybrid solar cell, including both physically mixed CP/NC composites and covalently linked CP-NC nanocomposites, is one of the several most promising alternative, cost-effective concepts for solar-to-electric energy conversion that has been offered to challenge conventional Si solar cells over the past decade. It has low fabrication cost and capability of large-scale production. However, to date, the highest power conversion efficiency (PCE) of organic/inorganic nanohybrid solar cells has been reported to be only 5.5%, which is still lower than the theoretical prediction of more than 10%. Several problems, i.e., microscopic phase separation of semiconducting CPs and NCs, low charge injection, and low carrier collection, have not been well addressed. More research remains to be done to improve the efficiency of CP/NC nanohybrid solar cells. In this review article, the recent advances in solving these problems were discussed. For the CP/NC solar cells prepared by physically mixing electron donating CP and electron accepting NC (i.e., forming CP/NC composites), methods involving the use of solvent mixtures and ligand modification to control the phase separation at the nanoscale are discussed; the implications of intriguing anisotropic NCs as well as their assemblies (i.e., NC arrays) on improving the charge collection are presented. For newly developed CP/NC solar cells prepared by chemically tethering CP chains on the NC surface (i.e., yielding CP-NC nanocomposites, thereby preventing microscopic phase separation of CP and NC and improving their electronic interaction), recent strategies on the synthesis of such nanocomposites and their photovoltaic performance are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-44
Number of pages12
JournalFrontiers of Chemistry in China
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements We gratefully acknowledge support from the National Science Foundation (NSF-CBET 0824361).


  • Conjugated polymers
  • Nanocrystals
  • Nanohybrid solar cells


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