Symmetry Breaking in Side Chains Leading to Mixed Orientations and Improved Charge Transport in Isoindigo-alt-Bithiophene Based Polymer Thin Films

ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2017 Aug 2;9(30):25426-25433. doi: 10.1021/acsami.7b07624. Epub 2017 Jul 21.


The selection of side chains is important in design of conjugated polymers. It not only affects their intrinsic physical properties, but also has an impact on thin film morphologies. Recent reports suggested that a face-on/edge-on bimodal orientation observed in polymer thin films may be responsible for a three-dimensional (3D) charge transport and leads to dramatically improved mobility in donor-acceptor based conjugated polymers. To achieve a bimodal orientation in thin films has been seldom explored from the aspect of molecular design. Here, we demonstrate a design strategy involving the use of asymmetric side chains that enables an isoindigo-based polymer to adopt a distinct bimodal orientation, confirmed by the grazing incidence X-ray diffraction. As a result, the polymer presents an average high mobility of 3.8 ± 0.7 cm2 V-1 s-1 with a maximum value of 5.1 cm2 V-1 s-1, in comparison with 0.47 and 0.51 cm2 V-1 s-1 obtained from the two reference polymers. This study exemplifies a new strategy to develop the next generation polymers through understanding the property-structure relationship.

Keywords: asymmetric side chains; bimodal orientation; field-effect transistors; isoindigo-based polymers; three-dimensional charge transport.