Enhancing Optoelectronic Properties of Conjugated Block Copolymers through Crystallization of Both Blocks

Thinh P. Le, Brandon H. Smith, Youngmin Lee, Joshua H. Litofsky, Melissa P. Aplan, Brooke Kuei, Chenhui Zhu, Cheng Wang, Alexander Hexemer, Enrique D. Gomez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Microphase-separated block copolymers composed of electron donor and acceptor blocks may provide morphology control to address many challenges in organic electronics. Crucial to controlling the self-assembly of fully conjugated block copolymers is tuning the interplay between crystallization of the individual blocks and microphase separation between the donor and the acceptor. Thus, we have examined the kinetics of the morphological evolution in P3HT-b-PFTBT block copolymer films during two processes: solution casting and thermal annealing. We use in situ wide-angle and small-angle grazing incidence X-ray scattering to monitor the crystallization of P3HT and microphase separation between the two blocks. We find that during film drying, initial P3HT crystallization happens quickly, before phase separation of the two blocks. However, crystallization is significantly suppressed with respect to neat materials, enabling microphase separation to proceed at time scales after some initial crystallization of the donor block takes place. This enables a mesoscale structure to develop during processes such as thermal annealing because self-assembly of the lamellar structure takes place before the crystallization of the donor block is complete. We also find that significant crystallization of PFTBT blocks after P3HT crystallization is possible at elevated temperatures. Crystallization of both blocks is important to maximize the performance of solar cells and transistors with block copolymer active layers. As a consequence, we exceed 3% average power conversion efficiencies in P3HT-b-PFTBT photovoltaic devices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1967-1976
Number of pages10
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 24 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry


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