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Significantly Increasing the Ductility of High Performance Polymer Semiconductors through Polymer Blending

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journal contribution
posted on 11.05.2016, 00:00 by Joshua I. Scott, Xiao Xue, Ming Wang, R. Joseph Kline, Benjamin C. Hoffman, Daniel Dougherty, Chuanzhen Zhou, Guillermo Bazan, Brendan T. O’Connor
Polymer semiconductors based on donor–acceptor monomers have recently resulted in significant gains in field effect mobility in organic thin film transistors (OTFTs). These polymers incorporate fused aromatic rings and have been designed to have stiff planar backbones, resulting in strong intermolecular interactions, which subsequently result in stiff and brittle films. The complex synthesis typically required for these materials may also result in increased production costs. Thus, the development of methods to improve mechanical plasticity while lowering material consumption during fabrication will significantly improve opportunities for adoption in flexible and stretchable electronics. To achieve these goals, we consider blending a brittle donor–acceptor polymer, poly­[4-(4,4-dihexadecyl-4H-cyclopenta­[1,2-b:5,4-b′]­dithiophen-2-yl)-alt-[1,2,5]­thiadiazolo­[3,4-c]­pyridine] (PCDTPT), with ductile poly­(3-hexylthiophene). We found that the ductility of the blend films is significantly improved compared to that of neat PCDTPT films, and when the blend film is employed in an OTFT, the performance is largely maintained. The ability to maintain charge transport character is due to vertical segregation within the blend, while the improved ductility is due to intermixing of the polymers throughout the film thickness. Importantly, the application of large strains to the ductile films is shown to orient both polymers, which further increases charge carrier mobility. These results highlight a processing approach to achieve high performance polymer OTFTs that are electrically and mechanically optimized.