Large-area solar cells (active area = 3 and 10cm(2)) were prepared with low band gap polymers based on thiophene and benzothiadiazole (1) or thiophene and benzo-bis(thiadiazole) (2). The band gaps of the polymers were 1.65 and 0.67 eV, respectively. The best photovoltaic performance was obtained for the device ITO/PEDOT/1:PCBM (1:2)/Al with an active area of 3 cm(2). The efficiency of the device was 0.62%. This is a high efficiency for a low band gap polymer in a large-area organic solar cell and thus polymer I is a very promising material for organic solar cells. The devices based on 2 were found to give poor devices when employed in bulk heterojunctions with PCBM. This was linked to a poor alignment of the energy levels in 2 with that of the electrodes and PCBM, showing that the requirement for a control of the positions of the energy levels becomes increasingly important as the band gap decreases. (c) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.