Poly(3-alkylthiophene) Diblock Copolymers with Ordered Microstructures and Continuous Semiconducting Pathways

TitlePoly(3-alkylthiophene) Diblock Copolymers with Ordered Microstructures and Continuous Semiconducting Pathways
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsHo, Victor, Bryan W. Boudouris, Bryan L. McCulloch, C.G. Shuttle, Martin Burkhardt, M.L. Chabinyc, and R.A. Segalman
Date PublishedJUN 22
AbstractConjugated rod-coil diblock copolymers self-assemble due to a balance of liquid crystalline (rod-rod) and enthalpic (rod-coil) interactions. Previous work has shown that while classical block copolymers self-assemble into a wide variety of nanostructures, when rod-rod interactions dominate self-assembly in rod-coil block copolymers, lamellar structures are preferred. Here, it is demonstrated that other, potentially more useful, nanostructures can be formed when these two interactions are more closely balanced. In particular, hexagonally packed polylactide (PLA) cylinders embedded in a semiconducting poly(3-alkylthiophene) (P3AT) matrix can be formed. This microstructure has been long-sought as it provides an opportunity to incorporate additional functionalities into a majority phase nanostructured conjugated polymer, for example in organic photovoltaic applications. Previous efforts to generate this phase in polythiophene-based block copolymers have failed due to the high driving force for P3AT crystallization. Here, we demonstrate that careful design of the P3AT moiety allows for a balance between crystallization and microphase separation due to chemical dissimilarity between copolymer blocks. In addition to hexagonally packed cylinders, P3AT-PLA block copolymers form nanostructures with long-range order at all block copolymer compositions. Importantly, the conjugated moiety of the P3AT-PLA block copolymers retains the crystalline packing structure and characteristic high time-of-flight chary transport of the homopolymer polythiophene (mu(h) similar to 10(-4) cm(2) V(-1) s(-1)) in the confined geometry of the block copolymer domains.