Article

Fluorination of Donor–Acceptor Copolymer Active Layers Enhances Charge Mobilities in Thin-Film Transistors

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Abstract

Several recent reports have demonstrated that fluorinated analogues of donor/acceptor copolymers surpass nonfluorinated counterparts in terms of performance in electronic devices. Using a copolymer series consisting of fluorinated, partially fluorinated, and nonfluorinated benzotriazole, we confirm that the addition of fluorine substituents beneficially impacts charge transport in polymer semiconductors. Transistor measurements demonstrated a factor of 5 increase in carrier mobilities with the degree of fluorination of the backbone. Furthermore, grazing-incidence X-ray diffraction data indicates progressively closer packing between the conjugated cores and an overall greater amount of π-stacking in the fluorinated materials. It is likely that attractive interactions between the electron-rich donor and fluorinated electron-deficient acceptor units induce very tightly stacking crystallites, which reduce the energetic barrier for charge hopping. In addition, a change in crystallite orientation was observed from primarily edge-on without fluorine substituents to mostly face-on with fluorinated benzotriazole.

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The charge transport properties of conjugated polymer semiconductors are governed by strong electron phonon coupling, leading to polaron formation as well as the presence of structural and electronic disorder. However, the relative contribution which polaronic relaxation and disorder broadening make to the temperature activation of the mobility of these materials is not well understood. Here we present a combined study of the temperature and concentration dependences of the field-effect mobility and the optically induced electron-transfer transitions of a series of poly(3-hexylthiohene) field-effect transistors of different molecular weight. We apply a vibronic coupling model to extract the reorganization energy and the strength of electronic coupling from the optical spectra. We observe a transition from a localized to a delocalized transport regime as a function of molecular weight and crystalline quality. Polaron activation is comparable to disorder-induced activation in the low-mobility regime [∼10−3 cm2∕(V s)] and needs to be taken into account when interpreting the field-effect mobility, while disorder becomes the dominant mechanism to limit charge transport in the high-mobility regime with mobilities >10−2–10−1 cm2∕(V s).
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One of the most inspiring and puzzling developments in the organic electronics community in the last few years has been the emergence of solution-processable semiconducting polymers that lack significant long-range order but outperform the best, high-mobility, ordered semiconducting polymers to date. Here we provide new insights into the charge-transport mechanism in semiconducting polymers and offer new molecular design guidelines by examining a state-of-the-art indacenodithiophene-benzothiadiazole copolymer having field-effect mobility of up to 3.6 cm(2) V(-1) s(-1) with a combination of diffraction and polarizing spectroscopic techniques. Our results reveal that its conjugated planes exhibit a common, comprehensive orientation in both the non-crystalline regions and the ordered crystallites, which is likely to originate from its superior backbone rigidity. We argue that charge transport in high-mobility semiconducting polymers is quasi one-dimensional, that is, predominantly occurring along the backbone, and requires only occasional intermolecular hopping through short π-stacking bridges.
Article
We report on charge transport in organic field-effect transistors based on poly(2,5-bis(3-tetradecylthiophen-2-yl)thieno[3,2-b]thiophene) as the active polymer layer with saturation field-effect mobilities as large as 1 cm2 V−1 s−1. This is achieved by employing Pt instead of the commonly used Au as the contacting electrode and allows for a significant reduction in the metal/polymer contact resistance. The mobility increases as a function of decreasing channel length, consistent with a Poole-Frenkel model of charge transport, and reaches record mobilities of 1 cm2 V−1 s−1 or more at channel lengths on the order of few microns in an undoped solution-processed polymer cast on an oxide gate dielectric.
Article
Three structurally identical polymers, except for the number of fluorine substitutions (0, 1 or 2) on the repeat unit (BnDT-DTBT), are investigated in detail, to further understand the impact of these fluorine atoms on open circuit voltage (Voc), short circuit current (Jsc) and fill factor (FF) of related solar cells. While the enhanced Voc can be ascribed to a lower HOMO level of the polymer by adding more fluorine substituents, the improvement in Jsc and FF are likely due to suppressed charge recombination. While the reduced bimolecular recombination with raising fluorine concentration is confirmed by variable light intensity studies, a plausibly suppressed geminate recombination is implied by the significantly increased change of dipole moment between the ground and excited states (∆µge) for these polymers as the number of fluorine substituents increase. Moreover, the 2F polymer (PBnDT-DTffBT) exhibits significantly more scattering in the in-plane lamellar stacking and out-of-plane π-π stacking directions, observed with GIWAXS. This indicates that the addition of fluorine leads to a more face-on polymer crystallite orientation with respect to the substrate which could contribute to the suppressed charge recombination. R-SoXS reveals that PBnDT-DTffBT has larger and purer polymer/fullerene domains. The higher domain purity is correlated with an observed decrease in PCBM miscibility in polymer, which drops from 21% (PBnDT-DTBT) to 12% (PBnDT-DTffBT). The disclosed "fluorine" impact not only explains the efficiency increase from 4% of PBnDT-DTBT (0F) to 7% with PBnDT-DTffBT (2F), but also suggests fluorine substitution should be generally considered in the future design of new polymers.
Article
A novel fluorinated copolymer (F-PCPDTBT) is introduced and shown to exhibit significantly higher power conversion efficiency in bulk heterojunction solar cells with PC(70)BM compared to the well-known low-band-gap polymer PCPDTBT. Fluorination lowers the polymer HOMO level, resulting in high open-circuit voltages well exceeding 0.7 V. Optical spectroscopy and morphological studies with energy-resolved transmission electron microscopy reveal that the fluorinated polymer aggregates more strongly in pristine and blended layers, with a smaller amount of additives needed to achieve optimum device performance. Time-delayed collection field and charge extraction by linearly increasing voltage are used to gain insight into the effect of fluorination on the field dependence of free charge-carrier generation and recombination. F-PCPDTBT is shown to exhibit a significantly weaker field dependence of free charge-carrier generation combined with an overall larger amount of free charges, meaning that geminate recombination is greatly reduced. Additionally, a 3-fold reduction in non-geminate recombination is measured compared to optimized PCPDTBT blends. As a consequence of reduced non-geminate recombination, the performance of optimized blends of fluorinated PCPDTBT with PC(70)BM is largely determined by the field dependence of free-carrier generation, and this field dependence is considerably weaker compared to that of blends comprising the non-fluorinated polymer. For these optimized blends, a short-circuit current of 14 mA/cm(2), an open-circuit voltage of 0.74 V, and a fill factor of 58% are achieved, giving a highest energy conversion efficiency of 6.16%. The superior device performance and the low band-gap render this new polymer highly promising for the construction of efficient polymer-based tandem solar cells.
Article
A clear dependence of the hole mobility on molecular weight of poly(3-hexylthiophene) in films is demonstrated. The charge carrier mobility of regioregular polythiophene is shown to increase by four orders of magnitude as the molecular weight is increased from similar to3 200 g mol(-1) to 36 000 g mol-1. These observations could explain why the mobility values obtained in different labs vary so widely and suggest that optimizing the molecular weight of conjugated polymers could lead to significant improvements in device performance.
Article
Many advances in organic photovoltaic efficiency are not yet fully understood and new insight into structure-property relationships is required to push this technology into broad commercial use. The aim of this article is not to comprehensively review recent work, but to provide commentary on recent successes and forecast where researchers should look to enhance the efficiency of photovoltaics. By lowering the LUMO level, utilizing electron-withdrawing substituents advantageously, and employing appropriate side chains on donor polymers, researchers can elucidate further aspects of polymer-PCBM interactions while ultimately developing materials that will push past 10% efficiency.
Article
We have fabricated organic thin-film transistors (OTFTs) using pentacene as an active layer with chemically modified SiO2 gate dielectrics. The effects of the surface treatment of SiO2 on the electric characteristics of OTFTs were investigated. The SiO2 gate dielectric surfaces were treated by normal wet-cleaning process, O2-plasma treatment, hexamethyldisilazane (HMDS), and octadecyltrichlorosilane (OTS) treatment. After the surface treatments, the contact angle and surface free energy were measured in order to analyze the surface state changes.From the electrical measurements, typical I–V characteristics of TFTs were observed. The field effect mobility, μ, was calculated to be 0.29 cm2 V−1 s−1 for OTS-treated sample, while those of the HMDS, O2-plasma treated, and wet-cleaned samples to be 0.16, 0.1, and 0.04 cm2 V−1 s−1, respectively.
Article
Recent research advances on conjugated polymers for photovoltaic devices have focused on creating low band gap materials, but a suitable band gap is only one of many performance criteria required for a successful conjugated polymer. This work focuses on the design of two medium band gap (~2.0 eV) copolymers for use in photovoltaic cells which are designed to possess a high hole mobility and low highest occupied molecular orbital and lowest unoccupied molecular orbital energy levels. The resulting fluorinated polymer PBnDT-FTAZ exhibits efficiencies above 7% when blended with [6,6]-phenyl C(61)-butyric acid methyl ester in a typical bulk heterojunction, and efficiencies above 6% are still maintained at an active layer thicknesses of 1 μm. PBnDT-FTAZ outperforms poly(3-hexylthiophene), the current medium band gap polymer of choice, and thus is a viable candidate for use in highly efficient tandem cells. PBnDT-FTAZ also highlights other performance criteria which contribute to high photovoltaic efficiency, besides a low band gap.
Article
Herein, we describe the synthesis of fluorinated polythienothiophene-co-benzodithiophenes (PTBFs) and the characterization of their physical properties, especially their performance in solar cells. Fluorination of the polymer backbone lowered both the HOMO and LUMO energy levels and simultaneously widened the energy bandgap of the polymer (0.1-0.2 eV). Incorporation of fluorine into the various positions of the polymer backbone significantly affected the solar cells' power conversion efficiency from 2.3% to 7.2%. Detailed studies revealed that the polymer containing mono-fluorinated thienothiophene gave the best solar cell performance. Perfluorination of the polymer backbone led to poor compatibility with PC(71)BM molecules, thus poor solar energy conversion efficiency. This is possibly due to the enhanced self-organization properties of the polymer chains and the fluorophobicity effect. Furthermore, it was found that perfluorination of the polymer backbone resulted in poor photochemical stability against singlet oxygen attack. Theoretical studies indicated that the internal polarization caused enhancement of the negative charge density on thienothiophene rings, which rendered them vulnerable to [2+4] cycloaddition reaction with singlet oxygen.
Article
Organic electronics have emerged as a viable competitor to amorphous silicon for the active layer in low-cost electronics. The critical performance of organic electronic materials is closely related to their morphology and molecular packing. Unlike their inorganic counterparts, polymers combine complex repeat unit structure and crystalline disorder. This combination prevents any single technique from being able to uniquely solve the packing arrangement of the molecules. Here, a general methodology for combining multiple, complementary techniques that provide accurate unit cell dimensions and molecular orientation is described. The combination of measurements results in a nearly complete picture of the organic film morphology.
Article
The photovoltaic performance of polymer bulk heterojunction solar cells is studied systematically. Using a new benzodithiophene polymer (PTB7) and PC 71BM (see figure) a power conversion efficiency of 7.4% has been achieved in PTB7/PC71BMblend film, indicating a great potential and bright future for polymer solar cells (FF = fill factor, PCE = power-conversion efficiency). (Figure Presented).
Article
Polymers to be used in bulk heterojunction (BHJ) solar cells should maintain a low highest occupied molecular orbital (HOMO) energy level as well as a narrow band gap in order to maximize the open circuit voltage (V(oc)) and the short circuit current (J(sc)). To concurrently lower the HOMO energy level and the band gap, we propose to modify the donor-acceptor low band gap polymer strategy by constructing alternating copolymers incorporating a "weak donor" and a "strong acceptor". As a result, the "weak donor" should help maintain a low HOMO energy level while the "strong acceptor" should reduce the band gap via internal charge transfer (ICT). This concept was examined by constructing a library of polymers employing the naphtho[2,1-b:3,4-b']dithiophene (NDT) unit as the weak donor, and benzothiadiazole (BT) as the strong acceptor. PNDT-BT, designed under the "weak donor-strong acceptor" strategy, demonstrated both a low HOMO energy level of -5.35 eV and a narrow band gap of 1.59 eV. As expected, a noticeably high V(oc) of 0.83 V was obtained from the BHJ device of PNDT-BT blended with PCBM. However, the J(sc) ( approximately 3 mA/cm(2)) was significantly lower than the maximum expected current from such a low band gap material, which limited the observed efficiency to 1.27% (with a 70 nm thin film). Further improvements in the efficiency are expected from these materials if new strategies can be identified to (a) increase the molecular weight and (b) improve the hole mobility while still maintaining a low HOMO energy level and a narrow band gap.