Understanding the Intrinsic Carrier Transport in Highly Oriented Poly(3-hexylthiophene): Effect of Side Chain Regioregularity

SY Qu and C Ming and Q Yao and WH Lu and KY Zeng and W Shi and X Shi and C Uher and LD Chen, POLYMERS, 10, 815 (2018).

DOI: 10.3390/polym10080815

The fundamental understanding of the influence of molecular structure on the carrier transport properties in the field of organic thermoelectrics (OTEs) is a big challenge since the carrier transport behavior in conducting polymers reveals average properties contributed from all carrier transport channels, including those through intra-chain, inter- chain, inter-grain, and hopping between disordered localized sites. Here, combining molecular dynamics simulations and experiments, we investigated the carrier transport properties of doped highly oriented poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) films with different side-chain regioregularity. It is demonstrated that the substitution of side chains can not only take effect on the carrier transport edge, but also on the dimensionality of the transport paths and as a result, on the carrier mobility. Conductive atomic force microscopy (C-AFM) study as well as temperature-dependent measurements of the electrical conductivity clearly showed ordered local current paths in the regular side chain P3HT films, while random paths prevailed in the irregular sample. Regular side chain substitution can be activated more easily and favors one-dimensional transport along the backbone chain direction, while the irregular sample presents the three-dimensional electron hopping behavior. As a consequence, the regular side chain P3HT samples demonstrated high carrier mobility of 2.9 +/- 0.3 cm(2)/V center dot s, which is more than one order of magnitude higher than that in irregular side chain P3HT films, resulting in a maximum thermoelectric (TE) power factor of 39.1 +/- 2.5 mu W/mK(2) at room temperature. These findings would formulate design rules for organic semiconductors based on these complex systems, and especially assist in the design of high performance OTE polymers.

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