Controlled Assembly of Semiconducting Polymers: From fundamental understanding towards stretchable electronics
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Starting from first-time demonstration of controlled assembly of Poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT), a model conjugated polymer, into mesoscale rod-like features, mechanistic elucidation of mesoscale molecular assembly process of P3HT could be proposed. Application of simple 2-step crystallization model successfully elaborated assembly process of P3HT molecules. We believe that understanding of the conjugated polymer assembly process obtained in this study using P3HT can be expanded to other conjugated molecule-solvent systems so that molecular assembly through solution processing methods can be applied in a more systematic and controllable manner. Further, through systematic interrogation of P3HT films with varied degrees of molecular ordering prepared by controlling assembly of P3HT molecules, an inverse relationship between mechanical resiliency and charge carrier mobility/molecular ordering in conjugated polymer systems was determined definitively. As a solution to the dilemma, a simple elastomer blend approach incorporating the advantages of polymer molecular interactions and crystallization mechanisms was presented. A composite of processed P3HT and Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) was shown to create a semiconducting film exhibiting both high ductility and superior mobility versus single component organic semiconductor counterpart.