Designing new architectures for controlling solid state properties of conjugated polymers

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Nambiar, Rakesh R.
Collard, David M.
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Conjugated polymers and oligomers are great materials for use in the next generation devices namely organic field effect transistors, light emitting diodes and polymeric solar cells. Apart from having the potential for developing power-efficient, flexible, robust and inexpensive devices, conjugated polymers can also be tuned by molecular design to optimize device characteristics. One key problem for the full commercial exploitation of conjugated polymers is that the charge carrier mobility of the state-of-the-art polymer semiconductors is much lower than required for many applications. The performance of the devices is strongly dependent on the molecular structure and supermolecular assembly of the conjugated polymer chains. This thesis covers our attempts to design molecular structure to control and improve the solid state properties of conjugated polymers. The relative placement of side chains along the backbone has a great influence on the solid state ordering of conjugated polymers. Poly(2,5-disubstituted-1,4-phenylene ethynylene)s (PPE)s, an important class of conjugated polymers, are generally synthesized by Pd-catalyzed coupling polymerizations of appropriately substituted diiodo and diethynyl benzenes (i.e., A-A and B-B type monomers). In asymmetrically substituted PPEs, this results in an irregular substitution pattern of the side chains along the polymer backbone. We report a new synthetic approach to prepare regioregular unsymmetrically substituted PPEs by polymerization of 4-iodophenylacetylenes (i.e., A-B type monomer). We provide a detailed discussion of various approaches to the synthesis of PPEs with different regioregularities and provide a description of the differences between regioregular and regiorandom analogs. The effect of regioregularity becomes even more important when the two side chains are very dissimilar or amphiphilic. We explore the effect of relative placement hydrophobic (dodecyloxy) / hydrophilic (tri(ethylene glycol) and hydrophobic (dodecyloxy)/fluorophilic (fluoroalkyl) side chains along the poly(1,4-phenylene ethynylene) backbone. We found that the regioregular substitution of the polymer backbone provides a structure in which the side chains segregate to afford a Janus-type structure. The regioregular polymer chains pack more densely in a monolayer at the air-water interface, and pack into a bilayer in the solid state to form a highly crystalline material. Pentacenes are very important organic molecules for use as semiconductor in oFETs due to their low band gap and high field effect mobility. One approach to reduce the bandgap of a polymeric system and improve performance is to include low bandgap small molecules into the conjugated backbone. A new copolymer system consisting of pentacene and terthiophene was developed and its optical and electronic properties along with its stability were evaluated. We report the use of ultrasonication of P3HT as a novel operationally-simple process to significantly improve the field effect mobility of P3HT-based FETs, thereby potentially eliminating the need for dielectric surface modifications or further processing of the device. Investigation of the sonicated polymer samples by number of characterization techniques indicates that ultrasonication leads to aggregation and ordering of the P3HT chains resulting in increase in the mobility.
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