Synthesis of Fullerene Derivatives for Diverse Applications: From Catalysis to Photovoltaics

Olivia Fernandez-Delgado, University of Texas at El Paso


Fullerene functionalization has enabled the improvement in their solubility, optoelectronic, semiconductive, chemical and physical properties that allow their use in several fields such as photovoltaics, catalysis and for biological applications. Their good electron transporting properties have been widely studied in perovskite solar cell (PSC) devices and more recently, there have been more articles focused specifically on the molecular interactions of the fullerene functional groups with the perovskite layer which has allowed to obtain high power conversion efficiencies (PCE) of 25.5%. On the other hand, fullerenes are beginning to be studied as molecular catalysts for water splitting electrocatalytic processes, resulting in some recent reports that show that tuning their structures can result in an improvement of their catalytic activities. In this dissertation, we wanted to study more in depth the relationship between the structure of new fullerene derivatives and their function as electron transporting materials (ETM) for PSCs as well as molecular catalysts for Hydrogen Evolution Reaction (HER) and Oxygen Evolution Reaction. We found that a deep understanding of the structural features, the electronic effects, and the specific interaction of the fullerene derivatives can lead to improved PCEs and overall photovoltaic performances in PSCs, as well as enhanced catalytic activity in electrocatalysis. Our findings opened the possibilities for the rational design of fullerenes with specific functional groups for specific applications. This work is organized in four main sections and 14 chapters. The first section describes general remarks about fullerenes such as their synthesis, most common reactions as well as their functionalization and structural remarks of the products. The second section is composed by four chapters featuring the use of fullerene derivatives for photovoltaic applications. We explored how small structural changes in the fullerene’s addend can lead to significant improvement in the photovoltaic response as well as studying the interfacial interactions between the fullerene derivatives and the perovskite layer. The third section is composed by three chapters where we explored the use of fullerene derivatives as molecular catalysts for HER and ORR, and how functional groups with different electronic character can influence their catalytic activity. Finally, the fourth section is composed by one chapter in which, for the first time, the reactivity of the higher fullerene C90-D5h, is explored.

Subject Area

Chemistry|Electrical engineering|Chemical engineering|Alternative Energy

Recommended Citation

Fernandez-Delgado, Olivia, "Synthesis of Fullerene Derivatives for Diverse Applications: From Catalysis to Photovoltaics" (2021). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI28650129.