With the development of light-harvesting organic materials for solar cell applications and molecular systems with fine-tuned colors for nonemissive electrochromic devices (e.g., smart windows, e-papers), a number of technical challenges remain to be overcome. Over the years, the concept of "spectral engineering" (tailoring the complex interplay between molecular physics and the various optical phenomena occurring across the electromagnetic spectrum) has become increasingly relevant in the field of π-conjugated organic polymers. Within the spectral engineering toolbox, the "donor- acceptor" approach uses alternating electron-rich and electron-deficient moieties along a π-conjugated backbone. This approach has proved especially valuable in the synthesis of dual-band and broadly absorbing chromophores with useful photovoltaic and electrochromic properties. In this Account, we highlight and provide insight into a present controversy surrounding the origin of the dual band of absorption sometimes encountered in semiconducting polymers structured using the "donor-acceptor" approach. Based on empirical evidence, we provide some schematic representations to describe the possible mechanisms governing the evolution of the two-band spectral absorption observed on varying the relative composition of electron-rich and electron-deficient substituents along the π-conjugated backbone. In parallel, we draw attention to the choice of the method employed to estimate and compare the absorption coefficients of polymer chromophores exhibiting distinct repeat unit lengths, and containing various extents of solubilizing side-chains along their backbone. Finally, we discuss the common assumption that "donor-acceptor" systems should have systematically lower absorption coefficients than their "all-donor" counterparts. The proposed models point toward important theoretical parameters which could be further explored at the macromolecular level to help researchers take full advantage of the complex interactions taking place in π-conjugated polymers with intramolecular "donor- acceptor" characteristics.
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