The nature of in-plane skeleton Raman modes of P3HT and their correlation to the degree of molecular order in P3HT:PCBM blend thin films

J Am Chem Soc. 2011 Jun 29;133(25):9834-43. doi: 10.1021/ja2013104. Epub 2011 Jun 8.


The nature of main in-plane skeleton Raman modes (C=C and C-C stretch) of poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) in pristine and its blend thin films with [6,6]-phenyl-C(61)-butyric acid methyl ester (PCBM) is studied by resonant and nonresonant Raman spectroscopy and Raman simulations. Under resonant conditions, the ordered phase of P3HT with respect to its disordered phase is identified by (a) a large shift in the C=C mode peak position to lower wavenumber (~21 cm(-1) shift), (b) a narrower fwhm of the C=C mode (~9 cm(-1) narrower), (c) a larger intensity of the C-C mode relative to the C=C mode (~56% larger), and (d) a very small Raman dispersion (~5 cm(-1)) of the C=C mode. The behavior of the C=C and C-C modes of the ordered and disordered phases of P3HT can be explained in terms of different molecular conformations. The C=C mode of P3HT in P3HT:PCBM blend films can be reproduced by simple superposition of the two peaks observed in different phases of P3HT (ordered and disordered). We quantify the molecular order of P3HT after blending with PCBM and the subsequent thermal annealing to be 42 ± 5% and 94 ± 5% in terms of the fraction of ordered P3HT phase, respectively. The increased molecular order of P3HT in blends upon annealing correlates well with enhanced device performance (J(SC), -4.79 to -8.72 mA/cm(2) and PCE, 1.07% to 3.39%). We demonstrate that Raman spectroscopy (particularly under resonant conditions) is a simple and powerful technique to study molecular order of conjugated polymers and their blend films.