We study conformation-dependent photophysical properties of polythiophene (PT) by molecular dynamics simulations and by ensemble and single-molecule optical experiments. We use a graft copolymer consisting of a polythiophene backbone and long polystyrene branches and compare its properties with those obtained on the same polythiophene derivative without the side chains. Coarse-grain molecular dynamics simulations show that in a poor solvent, the PT without the side chains (PT-R) forms a globulelike conformation in which distances between any two conjugated segments on the chain are within the Förster radius for efficient energy transfer. In the PT with the polystyrene branches (PT-PS), the polymer main PT chain retains an extended coillike conformation, even in a poor solvent, and the calculated distances between conjugated segments favor energy transfer only between a few neighboring chromophores. The theoretical predictions are confirmed by measurements of fluorescence anisotropy and fluorescence blinking of the polymers' single chains. High anisotropy ratios and two-state blinking in PT-R are due to localization of the exciton on a single conjugated segment. These signatures of exciton localization are absent in single chains of PT-PS. Electric-field- induced quenching measured as a function of concentration of PT dispersed in an inert matrix showed that in well-isolated chains of PT-PS, the exciton dissociation is an intrachain process and that aggregation of the PT-R chains causes an increase in quenching due to the onset of interchain interactions. Measurements of the field-induced quenching on single chains indicate that in PT-R, the exciton dissociation is a slower process that takes place only after the exciton is localized on one conjugated segment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- Materials Chemistry