Title

Impact of Backbone Rigidity On the Thermomechanical Properties of Semiconducting Polymers With Conjugation Break Spacers

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

7-17-2020

School

Polymer Science and Engineering

Abstract

There remains a lack of fundamental understanding in the role of backbone rigidity on the thermomechanical properties of conjugated polymers. Here, we provide the first holistic approach to understand the fundamental influence of backbone rigidity on an n-type naphthalene diimide-based conjugated polymer, denoted by PNDI-Cx, through insertion of a flexible conjugation break spacer (CBS). CBS lengths are varied from fully conjugated with zero alkyl spacer (PNDI-C0) to a seven-carbon alkyl spacer (PNDI-C7), with the CBS engineered into each repeat unit for systematic evaluation. Solution small-angle neutron scattering and oscillatory shear rheometry were employed to provide the first quantitative evidence of CBS influence over conjugated polymer chain rigidity and entanglement molecular weight (Me), demonstrating a reduction in the Kuhn length from 521 to 36 Å for fully conjugated PNDI-C0 and PNDI-C6, respectively, as well as a nearly consistent Me of ∼15 kDa upon the addition of CBS. Thermomechanical properties, such as elastic modulus and glass-transition temperature, were shown to decrease with an increasing length of CBS. An extraordinary ductility, upwards of 400% tensile strain before fracture, was observed for high-molecular-weight PNDI-C4, which we attribute to a high number of entanglements and disruption of crystallization. Furthermore, the deformation mechanism for PNDI-Cx was studied under strain through X-ray diffraction, polarized UV–vis spectroscopy, and atomic force microscopy. Overall, this work sheds light on the important role of backbone rigidity in designing flexible and stretchable conjugated polymers.

Publication Title

Macromolecules

Volume

53

Issue

14

First Page

6032

Last Page

6042

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