Isoindigo, a versatile electron-deficient unit for high-performance organic electronics

Romain Stalder, Jianguo Mei, Kenneth R. Graham, Leandro A. Estrada, John R. Reynolds

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

324 Scopus citations


Isoindigo (iI) has proven successful as an electron-accepting building block for the preparation of electroactive materials for organic electronics. Its high yielding and scalable synthesis has enabled the rapid development of a large number of molecular and polymeric iI-based materials with remarkable physical properties. This perspective provides an overview of the fundamental properties of isoindigo and summarizes the progress in the development of new materials for varied electronic applications during the last 3 years, focusing in particular on organic photovoltaics (OPVs) and organic field effect transistors (OFETs). The fundamental electronic properties of isoindigo are discussed in the context of the substitution pattern effect (5,5′ vs 6,6′) on the frontier orbitals energies and optical properties. The development of molecular systems in the 6,6′-iI configuration for OPVs is examined with an emphasis on molecular design for improved electronic properties thanks to fine-tuning of the active layer morphology via crystallization control. Numerous copolymers of iI have been reported, with both electron-rich and electron-poor comonomers. The homopolymer of isoindigo displays electron-accepting and electrochromic properties and serves as a polymeric surrogate for fullerenes in all-polymer solar cells. The copolymers' absorption profiles span the entire visible spectrum into the near-infrared, up to 900 nm. Bulk-heterojunction solar cells based on iI copolymers have reached up to 6.3% efficiency. While the effect of processing additives and cell architecture are important, the unique electronic properties of iI polymers also provide useful insight on energetic losses within blends with fullerenes. Selected copolymers also perform highly in air-stable field effect transistors, with p-type mobilities exceeding 3 cm2/(V s). New concepts concerning the effect of backbone curvature and side-chain branching or polarity have been investigated using iI copolymers. Additionally, some all-acceptor copolymers display n-type mobility. As the design of iI materials evolves, structural modifications of the iI core emerge, targeting ambipolar charge transport and enhanced backbone planarity. Overall, isoindigo provides the field of organic electronics with impressive performance as well as a valuable platform for structure-property relationship investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)664-678
Number of pages15
JournalChemistry of Materials
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 14 2014


  • electron-acceptor
  • isoindigo
  • organic photovoltaics
  • organic transistors
  • π-conjugated materials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Materials Chemistry


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