Molecular Origin of Strain-Induced Chain Alignment In PDPP-Based Semiconducting Polymeric Thin Films

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Polymer Science and Engineering


Donor–acceptor (D–A) type semiconducting polymers have shown great potential for the application of deformable and stretchable electronics in recent decades. However, due to their heterogeneous structure with rigid backbones and long solubilizing side chains, the fundamental understanding of their molecular picture upon mechanical deformation still lacks investigation. Here, the molecular orientation of diketopyrrolopyrrole (DPP)-based D–A polymer thin films is probed under tensile deformation via both experimental measurements and molecular modeling. The detailed morphological analysis demonstrates highly aligned polymer crystallites upon deformation, while the degree of backbone alignment is limited within the crystalline domain. Besides, the aromatic ring on polymer backbones rotates parallel to the strain direction despite the relatively low overall chain anisotropy. The effect of side-chain length on the DPP chain alignment is observed to be less noticeable. These observations are distinct from traditional linear-chain semicrystalline polymers like polyethylene due to distinct characteristics of backbone/side-chain combination and the crystallographic characteristics in DPP polymers. Furthermore, a stable and isotropic charge carrier mobility is obtained from fabricated organic field-effect transistors. This study deconvolutes the alignment of different components within the thin-film microstructure and highlights that crystallite rotation and chain slippage are the primary deformation mechanisms for semiconducting polymers.

Publication Title

Advanced Functional Materials





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