Design, synthesis and characterization of self-assembling conjugated polymers for use in organic electronic applications
Woody, Kathy Beckner
MetadataShow full item record
Conjugated polymers comprise some of the most promising materials for new technologies such as organic field effect transistors, solar light harvesting technology and sensing devices. In spite of tremendous research initiatives in materials chemistry, the potential to optimize device performance and develop new technologies is remarkable. Understanding relationships between the structure of conjugated polymers and their electronic properties is critical to improving device performance. The design and synthesis of new materials which self-organize into ordered nanostructures creates opportunities to establish relationships between electronic properties and morphology or molecular packing. This thesis details our progress in the development of synthetic routes which provide access to new classes of conjugated polymers that contain dissimilar side chains that segregate or dissimilar conjugated blocks which phase separate, and summarizes our initial attempts to characterize these materials. Poly(1,4-phenylene ethynylene)s (PPEs) have been used in a variety of organic electronic applications, most notably as fluorescent sensors. Using traditional synthetic methods, asymmetrically disubstituted PPEs have irregular placement of side chains on the conjugated backbone. Herein, we establish the first synthetic route to an asymmetrically substituted regioregular PPEs. The initial PPEs in this study have different lengths of alkoxy side chains, and both regioregular and regiorandom analogs are synthesized and characterized for comparison. The design of amphiphilic structures provides additional opportunities for side chains to influence the molecular packing and electronic properties of conjugated polymers. A new class of regioregular, amphiphilic PPEs has been prepared bearing alkoxy and semifluoroalkoxy side chains, which have a tendency to phase separate. Fully conjugated block copolymers can provide access to interesting new morphologies as a result of phase separation of the conjugated blocks. In particular, donor-acceptor block copolymers that phase separate into electron rich and electron poor domains may be advantageous in organic electronic devices such as bulk heterojunction solar cells, of which the performance relies on precise control of the interface between electron donating and accepting materials. The availability of donor-acceptor block copolymers is limited, largely due to the challenges associated with synthesizing these materials. In this thesis, two new synthetic routes to donor-acceptor block copolymers are established. These methods both utilize the catalyst transfer condensation polymerization, which proceeds by a chain growth mechanism. The first example entails the synthesis of a monofunctionalized, telechelic poly(3-alkylthiophene) which can be coupled to electron accepting polymers in a subsequent reaction. The other method describes the first example of a one-pot synthesis of a donor-acceptor diblock copolymer. The methods of synthesis are described, and characterization of the block copolymers is reported.