Entanglements in Marginal Solutions: A Means of Tuning Pre-Aggregation of Conjugated Polymers with Positive Implications for Charge Transport

Hanlin Hu, Kui Zhao, Nikhil J. Fernandes, Pierre Boufflet, James Henry Bannock, Liyang Yu, John C de Mello, Natalie Stingelin, Martin Heeney, Emmanuel P. Giannelis, Aram Amassian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations

Abstract

The solution-processing of conjugated polymers, just like commodity polymers, is subject to solvent and molecular weight-dependent solubility, interactions and chain entanglements within the polymer, all of which can influence the crystallization and microstructure development in semi-crystalline polymers and consequently affect charge transport and optoelectronic properties. Disentanglement of polymer chains in marginal solvents was reported to work via ultrasonication, facilitating the formation of photophysically ordered polymer aggregates. In this contribution, we explore how a wide range of technologically relevant solvents and formulations commonly used in organic electronics influence chain entanglement and the aggregation behaviour of P3HT using a combination of rheological and spectrophotometric measurements. The specific viscosity of the solution offers an excellent indication of the degree of entanglements in the solution, which is found to be related to the solubility of P3HT in a given solvent. Moreover, deliberately disentangling the solution in the presence of solvophobic driving forces, leads consistently to formation of photophysically visible aggregates which is indicative of local and perhaps long range order in the solute. We show for a broad range of solvents and molecular weights that disentanglement ultimately leads to significant ordering of the polymer in the solid state and a commensurate increase in charge transport properties. In doing so we demonstrate a remarkable ability to tune the microstructure which has important implications for transport properties. We discuss its potential implications in the context of organic photovoltaics.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7394-7404
Number of pages11
JournalJ. Mater. Chem. C
Volume3
Issue number28
DOIs
StatePublished - 2015

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