Pushing the limits of high-resolution polymer microscopy using antioxidants

Brooke Kuei, Enrique D. Gomez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

High-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM) has been transformative to the field of polymer science, enabling the direct imaging of molecular structures. Although some materials have remarkable stability under electron beams, most HRTEM studies are limited by the electron dose the sample can handle. Beam damage of conjugated polymers is not yet fully understood, but it has been suggested that the diffusion of secondary reacting species may play a role. As such, we examine the effect of the addition of antioxidants to a series of solution-processable conjugated polymers as an approach to mitigating beam damage. Characterizing the effects of beam damage by calculating critical dose DC values from the decay of electron diffraction peaks shows that beam damage of conjugated polymers in the TEM can be minimized by using antioxidants at room temperature, even if the antioxidant does not alter or incorporate into polymer crystals. As a consequence, the addition of antioxidants pushes the resolution limit of polymer microscopy, enabling imaging of a 3.6 Å lattice spacing in poly[(5,6-difluoro-2,1,3-benzothiadiazol-4,7-diyl)-alt-(3,3″′-di(2-octyldodecyl)-2,2′;5′,2″;5″,2″′-quaterthiophene-5,5″′-diyl)] (PffBT4T-2OD).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number153
JournalNature communications
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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