Backbone-driven host–dopant miscibility modulates molecular doping in NDI conjugated polymers

Molecular doping is the key to enabling organic electronic devices, however, the design strategies to maximize doping efficiency demands further clarity and comprehension. Previous reports focus on the effect of the side chains, but the role of the backbone is still not well understood. In this study, we synthesize a series of NDI-based copolymers with bithiophene, vinylene, and acetylenic moieties (P1G, P2G, and P3G, respectively), all containing branched triethylene glycol side chains. Using computational and experimental methods, we explore the impact of the conjugated backbone using three key parameters for doping in organic semiconductors: energy levels, microstructure, and miscibility. Our experimental results show that P1G undergoes the most efficient n-type doping owed primarily to its higher dipole moment, and better host–dopant miscibility with N-DMBI. In contrast, P2G and P3G possess more planar backbones than P1G, but the lack of long-range order, and poor host–dopant miscibility limit their doping efficiency. Our data suggest that backbone planarity alone is not enough to maximize the electrical conductivity (σ) of n-type doped organic semiconductors, and that backbone polarity also plays an important role in enhancing σ via host–dopant miscibility. Finally, the thermoelectric properties of doped P1G exhibit a power factor of 0.077 μW m−1 K−2, and ultra-low in-plane thermal conductivity of 0.13 W m−1K−1 at 5 mol% of N-DMBI, which is among the lowest thermal conductivity values reported for n-type doped conjugated polymers.

Rosas Villalva, D., Singh, S., Galuska, L. A., Sharma, A., Han, J., Liu, J., … Baran, D. (2022). Backbone-driven host–dopant miscibility modulates molecular doping in NDI conjugated polymers. Materials Horizons. doi:10.1039/d1mh01357b

This publication is based upon work supported by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) Office of Sponsored Research (OSR) under Award No. OSR-CRG2018-3737 and British Council Newton Fund Institutional Links (ref: 337067). B.C.S. acknowledges the UK Research and Innovation for Future Leaders Fellowship no. MR/S031952/1 and EPSRC grant (EP/P007767/1). L. G. and X. G. thanks U.S. Department Energy provides partial support for the scattering experiments in this work under award No. DE-SC0022050. The work by J. L. and L. J. A. K. was supported by a grant from STW/NWO (VIDI 13476).

Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)

Materials Horizons


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