Functional Materials

Over the past 20 years, organic compounds have increasingly found applications as active materials in devices such as computer displays or solar cells. Our group is mainly interested in synthesizing molecular materials for use in new-generation solar cells (e.g. bulk heterojunction solar cells, perovskite solar cells). Some important goals in this field include the preparation of fullerene or non-fullerene electron acceptors that can surpass the efficiency of the gold standard fullerene PC70BM, the synthesis of hole transporting materials that boost the efficiency of perovskite solar cells, and a supramolecular approach for achieving an interdigitated heterojunction solar cell. 

Supramolecular Chemistry of Curved Pi-Systems

Highly strained π-systems such as the macrocyclic cycloparaphenylenes ([n]CPPs) have recently attracted much attention due to their challenging syntheses and unusual optoelectronic properties. We are interested in the strong, non-covalent interactions between these shape-persistent macrocycles and synthetic carbon allotropes such as C60, C70 or single-walled carbon allotropes.

In our first contributions in this area, we made use of the supramolecular chemistry of nanohoop [10]CPP to prepare and investigate a very unusual [2]rotaxane and to study the photophysics of electron transfer with a range of fullerenes, including the previsouly poorly understood dimeric compound (C60)2

Fullerenes in Organic Solar Cells

Due to a rapid decline of their production cost, fullerenes and their derivatives continue to be priviledged electron acceptors in organic photovoltaic devices.

In a first project, we wondered why prior to 2014, there were no reports of azafullerenes as electron acceptors in organic solar cells and we could demonstrate (in collaboration with Prof. Palomares, ICIQ Tarragona) that our new compound DPC59N indeed outperformed PC60BM in respect to short circuit current (JSC) and external quantum efficiency (EQE) in blends with polymeric donor P3HT. 

In a second project, we teamed up with Profs. Brabec (Erlangen) and McGehee (Stanford) to investigate in great detail how the dimerization of fullerenes in the photovoltaic device affects the power conversion efficiency and how these losses can be minimized by a suitable annealing techniques.

Key Publications


F. M. Steudel, E. Ubasart, L. Leanza, M. Pujals, T. Parella, G. M. Pavan, X. Ribas, M. von Delius Synthesis of C60/[10]CPP-Catenanes by Regioselective, Nanocapsule-Templated Bingel Bis-AdditionAngewandte Chemie International Edition 2023, e202309393

German translation avalaible


O. Shyshov, S. V. Haridas, L. Pesce, H. Qi, A. Gardin, D. Bochicchio, U. Kaiser, G. M. Pavan, M. von Delius Living Supramolecular Polymerization of Fluorinated CyclohexanesNature Communications 2021, 12, 3134

(Selected as Editor's Highlight)


E. Ubasart, O. Borodin, C. Fuertes-Espinosa, Y. Xu, C. García-Simón, J. Juanhuix, F. Gándara, I. Imaz, D. Maspoch, M. von Delius, X. Ribas A three-shell supramolecular complex enables the symmetry-mismatched chemo- and regioselective bis-functionalization of C60Nature Chemistry 2021, 13, 420-427

(Press release in English and German; Highlighted on the journal front cover and in C&EN, Chemistry Views, Nanowerk, ChemEurope, Laborpraxis, ChemistryCommunityAnimated Gif by Agustí Lledó)


Y. Xu, M. von Delius The Supramolecular Chemistry of Strained Carbon NanohoopsAngewandte Chemie International Edition 2020, 59, 559-573

(Also published in German; translated by Dr. Sebastian Beil)


Y. Xu, S. Gsänger, M. B. Minameyer, I. Imaz, D. Maspoch, O. Shyshov, F. Schwer, X. Ribas, T. Drewello, B. Meyer, M. von Delius Highly Strained, Radially π-Conjugated Porphyrinylene NanohoopsJournal of the American Chemical Society 2019, 141, 18500-18507

(Highlighted on the journal front cover)


Y. Xu, R. Kaur, B. Wang, M. B. Minameyer, S. Gsänger, B. Meyer, T. Drewello, D. M. Guldi, M. von Delius A Concave-Convex π-π Template Approach Enables the Synthesis of [10]Cycloparaphenylene-Fullerene [2]RotaxanesJournal of the American Chemical Society 2018, 140, 13413-13420

(Highlighted as JACS Spotlight)


Y. Xu, B. Wang, R. Kaur, M. B. Minameyer, M. Bothe, T. Drewello, D. M. Guldi, M. von Delius A Supramolecular [10]CPP Junction Enables Efficient Electron Transfer in Modular Porphyrin-[10]CPP-Fullerene ComplexesAngewandte Chemie International Edition 2018, 57, 11549-11553
T. Heumüller, W. R. Mateker, A. Distler, U. F. Fritze, R. Cheachareon, W. Nguyen, M. Biele, M. Salvador, M. von Delius, H. Egelhaaf, M. D. McGehee, C. J. Brabec Morphological and electrical control of fullerene dimerization determines organic photovoltaic stabilityEnergy & Environmental Science 2016, 9, 247-256
W. Cambarau, U. F. Fritze, A. Viterisi, E. Palomares, M. von Delius Increased short circuit current in an azafullerene-based organic solar cellChemical Communications 2015, 51, 1128-1130