Despite having exceptional electroactive properties, applications of unsubstituted polythiophene (PTh) have been limited due to its insolubility. To overcome this challenge, we have employed oxidative chemical vapor deposition (oCVD) as a unique liquid-free technique to enable the oxidative polymerization of PTh using thiophene as the starting monomer and vanadium oxytrichloride as an effective vaporizable oxidant initiator. Vibrational and phototelectron spectroscopy indicated the formation of unsubstituted polythiophene. Cyclic voltammetry revealed its electrochromic behavior in solution. Significantly, polymer conjugation length and electrical conductivity can be tuned by controlling oCVD process variables. Polymerization is found to be adsorption-limited, so by providing sufficient monomer and limiting the amount of initiator at the growth surface, PTh is believed to be formed through α-α thiophene linkages.
© 2011 American Chemical Society