Nanodiamond surface chemistry controls assembly of polypyrrole and generation of photovoltage

D. Miliaieva, P. Matunova, J. Cermak, S. Stehlik, A. Cernescu, Z. Remes, P. Stenclova, M. Muller and B. Rezek

Scientific Reports 11, 590 (2021)
Nanoscale composite of detonation nanodiamond (DND) and polypyrrole (PPy) as a representative of organic light-harvesting polymers is explored for energy generation, using nanodiamond as an inorganic electron acceptor. We present a technology for the composite layer-by-layer synthesis that is suitable for solar cell fabrication. The formation, pronounced material interaction, and photovoltaic properties of DND-PPy composites are characterized down to nanoscale by atomic force microscopy, infrared spectroscopy, Kelvin probe, and electronic transport measurements. The data show that DNDs with different surface terminations (hydrogenated, oxidized, poly-functional) assemble PPy oligomers in different ways. This leads to composites with different optoelectronic properties. Tight material interaction results in significantly enhanced photovoltage and broadband (1–3.5 eV) optical absorption in DND/PPy composites compared to pristine materials. Combination of both oxygen and hydrogen functional groups on the nanodiamond surface appears to be the most favorable for the optoelectronic effects. Theoretical DFT calculations corroborate the experimental data. Test solar cells demonstrate the functionality of the concept.