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  1. Stable organic semiconductors (OSCs) with a high-spin ground-state can profoundly impact emerging technologies such as organic magnetism, spintronics, and medical imaging. Over the last decade, there has been a significant effort to design π-conjugated materials with unpaired spin centers. Here, we report new donor–acceptor (D–A) conjugated polymers comprising cyclopentadithiophene and cyclopentadiselenophene donors with benzobisthiadiazole (BBT) and iso-BBT acceptors. Density functional theory calculations show that the BBT-based polymers display a decreasing singlet–triplet energy gap with increasing oligomer chain length, with degenerate singlet and triplet states for a N = 8 repeat unit. Furthermore, a considerable distance between the unpaired electrons with a pure diradical character disrupts the π-bond covalency and localizes the unpaired spins at the polymer ends. However, replacing the BBT acceptor with iso-BBT leads to a closed-shell configuration with a low-spin ground-state and a localized spin density on the polymer cores. This study shows the significance of the judicious choice of π-conjugated scaffolds in generating low- ( S = 0) and high-spin ( S = 1) ground-states in the neutral form, by modulation of spin topology in extended π-conjugated D–A polymers for emergent optoelectronic applications.
  2. Dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs) have drawn a significant interest due to their low production cost, design flexibility, and the tunability of the sensitizer. However, the power conversion efficiency (PCE) of the metal-free organic dyes is limited due to the inability of the dye to absorb light in the near-infrared (NIR) region, leaving a large amount of energy unused. Herein, we have designed new DSC dyes with open-shell character, which significantly red-shifts the absorption spectra from their counterpart closed-shell structure. A small diradical character ( y < 0.10) is found to be beneficial in red-shifting the absorption maxima into the NIR region and broadening up to 2500 nm. Also, the open-shell dyes significantly reduce the singlet–triplet energy gaps (Δ E ST ), increase the total amount of charge-transfer to the semiconductor surface, reduce the exciton binding energy, and significantly increase the excited-state lifetimes compared to the closed-shell systems. However, the closed-shell dyes have higher injection efficiency with increased intramolecular charge transfer (ICT) character. Our study reveals the design rule for open-shell DSC dyes to be able to absorb photons in the NIR region, which can increase the efficiency of the solar cell device.
  3. Iodine binding to thiophene rings in dyes for dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs) has been hypothesized to be performance degrading in a number of literature cases. Binding of iodine to dyes near the semiconductor surface can promote undesirable electron transfers and lower the overall efficiency of devices. Six thiophene or furan containing dye analogs were synthesized to analyze iodine binding to the dyes via Raman spectroscopy, UV-Vis studies, device performance metrics and density functional theory (DFT) based computations. Evidence suggests I 2 binds thiophene-based dyes stronger than furan-based dyes. This leads to higher DSC device currents and voltages from furan analogues, and longer electron lifetimes in DSC devices using furan based dyes. Raman spectrum of the TiO 2 surface-bound dyes reveals additional and more instense peaks for thiophene dyes in the presence of I 2 relative to no I 2 . Additionally, broader and shifted UV-Vis peaks are observed for thiophene dyes in the presence of I 2 on TiO 2 films suggesting significant interaction between the dye molecules and I 2 . These observations are also supported by DFT and TD-DFT calculations which indicate the absence of a key geometric energy minimum in the dye–I 2 ground state for furanmore »dyes which are readily observed for the thiophene based analogues.« less