Resonance Raman Spectroscopy and Imaging of Franck–Condon Vibrational Activity and Morphology in Conjugated Polymers for Solar Cells

2019-08-01T17:36:48Z (GMT) by John K. Grey
ConspectusVibrational reorganization influences photophysical outcomes in conjugated polymers used as active materials for optoelectronic devices. Excited state geometric rearrangements typically involve many displaced vibrations, yet most materials design schemes rely solely on pure electronic models with limited predictive capability. Although the coupling of vibrational motions to electronic processes occurs over a broad range of time scales, resolving structural displacements immediately following photon absorption can be particularly insightful for understanding the intrinsic stabilities of excited states. These Franck–Condon vibrational relaxation processes occur on time scales of <1 ps in polymers and mainly involve high-frequency skeletal motions. Establishing correlations between Franck–Condon vibrational reorganization and steady-state material properties could generate new avenues for informing materials design, which is especially important in the fast-paced field of organic photovoltaics (OPV) where seemingly elegant strategies often fail but molecular-level insights are usually lacking.The goal of this Account is to highlight relationships between molecular structure, packing, and vibrational reorganization in OPV systems, such as blends of conjugated polymers with fullerenes. Resonance Raman spectroscopy (RRS) is a sensitive probe of Franck–Condon activity in OPV materials, and signals are bolstered by large resonance enhancements and low backgrounds from quantitative fluorescence quenching. Our group has undertaken extensive RRS investigations of heterogeneous OPV materials in functioning device environments to uncover new insights of the multidimensional excited state potential energy landscape and fluctuations with local morphology. Time-dependent quantum mechanical approaches facilitate this effort by providing an intuitive theoretical framework to access dynamical perspectives of Raman transitions. Moreover, dynamics regimes of Franck–Condon excited state structural evolution can be selected simply by tuning excitation energies. This excitation detuning approach also reveals structurally and electronically distinct conformers with unique Franck–Condon signatures typically concealed under inhomogeneously broadened absorption line shapes. Interestingly, long and rich progressions of overtone and combination transitionsrare for large molecules with multiple displaced modesare frequently resolved that exhibit strong sensitivity to the local chromophore environment. These harmonic features encode useful dynamics information by serving as internal “clocks” of Franck–Condon vibrational activity in addition to enabling quantitative estimates of mode-specific displacements. RRS attributes may be further exploited to perform noninvasive imaging of functioning OPV devices in concert with variable frequency electrical imaging probes. This approach generates direct spatial correlations between morphology-dependent Franck–Condon vibrational activity and material performance metrics (e.g., photocurrent generation) on submicrometer size scales.