Polarons, bipolarons, and side-by-side polarons in reduction of oligofluorenes

J Am Chem Soc. 2012 Jul 4;134(26):10852-63. doi: 10.1021/ja301494n. Epub 2012 Jun 21.


The nature of charge carriers in conjugated polymers was elucidated through optical spectroscopy following single- and multielectron reduction of 2,7-(9,9-dihexylfluorene) oligomers, F(n), n = 1-10, yielding spectra with the two bands typical of polarons upon single reduction. For short oligomers addition of a second electron gave a single band demonstrating the classic polaron-bipolaron transition. However, for long oligomers double reductions yielded spectra with two bands, better described as two polarons, possibly residing side-by-side in the F(n) chains. The singly reduced anions do not appear to delocalize over the entire length of the longer conjugated systems; instead they are polarons occupying approximately four fluorene repeat units. The polarons of F(3) and F(4) display sharp absorption bands, but for longer oligomers the bands broaden, possibly due to fluctuations of the lengths of these unconfined polarons. DFT calculations with long-range-corrected functionals were fully consistent with the experiments describing polarons in anions, bipolarons in dianions of short oligomers, and side-by-side polarons in dianions of long oligomers, while results from standard functionals were not compatible with the experimental results. The computations found F(10)(2-), for example, to be an open-shell singlet (<S(2)> ≈ 1), with electrons in two side-by-side orbitals, while dianions of shorter oligomers experienced a gradual transition to bipolarons with states of intermediate character at intermediate lengths. The energies and extinction coefficients of each anionic species were measured by ultraviolet-visible-near-infrared absorption spectroscopy with chemical reduction and pulse radiolysis. Reduction potentials determined from equilibria mirrored oxidation potentials reported by Chi and Wegner. Anions of oligomers four or more units in length contained vestigial neutral (VN) absorption bands that arise from neutral parts of the chain. Energies of the VN bands correspond to those of oligomers shorter by four units.