Prediction of the Wetting Behavior of Active and Hole-Transport Layers for Printed Flexible Electronic Devices Using Molecular Dynamics Simulations

R Bhowmik and RJ Berry and MF Durstock and BJ Leever, ACS APPLIED MATERIALS & INTERFACES, 9, 19269-19277 (2017).

DOI: 10.1021/acsami.6b14786

Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations were used to predict the wetting behavior of materials typical of active and hole-transport layers in organic electronics by evaluating their contact angles and adhesion energies. The active layer (AL) here consists of a blend of poly(3-hexylthiophene) and phenyl-C-61-butyric acid methyl ester (P3HT:PCBM), whereas the hole-transport layer (HTL) consists of a blend of poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) and poly(styrenesulfonate) (PEDOT:PSS). Simulations of the wetting of these surfaces by multiple solvents show that formamide, glycerol, and water droplet contact angle trends correlate with experimental values. However, droplet simulations on surfaces are computationally expensive and would be impractical for routine use in printed electronics and other applications. As an alternative, contact angle measurements can be related to adhesion energy, which can be calculated more quickly and easily from simulations and has been shown to correlate with contact angles. Calculations of adhesion energy for 16 different solvents were used to rapidly predict the wetting behavior of solvents on the AL and HTL surfaces. Among the tested solvents, pentane and hexane exhibit low and similar adhesion energy on both of the surfaces considered. This result suggests that among the tested solvents, pentane and hexane exhibit strong potential as orthogonal solvent in printing electronic materials onto HTL and AL materials. The simulation results further show that MD can accelerate the evaluation of processing parameters for printed electronics.

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