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A symmetrical cyanine dye chromophore is modified with different counteranions to study the effect on crystal packing, polarizability, thermal stability, optical properties, light absorbing layer morphology, and organic photovoltaic (OPV) device parameters. Four sulfonate-based anions and the bulky bistriflylimide anion are introduced to the 2-[5-(1,3-dihydro-1,3,3-trimethyl-2H-indol-2-ylidene)-1,3-pentadien-1-yl]-1,3,3-trimethyl-3H-indolium chromophore using an Amberlyst A26 (OH− form) anion exchanger. Anionic charge distribution clearly correlates with device performance, whereby an average efficiency of 2% was reached in a standard bilayer organic solar. Evidence is given that the negative charge of the anion distributed over a large number of atoms is significantly more important than the size of the organic moieties of the sulfonate charge carrying group. This provides a clear strategy for future design of more efficient cyanine dyes for OPV applications.
cyanine dyes; morphology; organic photovoltaics; single crystals