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J Am Chem Soc. 2008 Jul 30;130(30):9679-94. doi: 10.1021/ja710815a. Epub 2008 Jul 2.

n-channel polymers by design: optimizing the interplay of solubilizing substituents, crystal packing, and field-effect transistor characteristics in polymeric bithiophene-imide semiconductors.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry and the Materials Research Center, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 60208, USA.


Electron transporting (n-channel) polymer semiconductors for field-effect transistors are rare. In this investigation, the synthesis and characterization of new electron-depleted N-alkyl-2,2'-bithiophene-3,3'-dicarboximide-based pi-conjugated homopolymers and copolymers containing the 2,2'-bithiophene unit are reported. A novel design approach is employed using computational modeling to identify favorable monomer properties such as core planarity, solubilizing substituent tailorability, and appropriate electron affinity with gratifying results. Monomeric model compounds are synthesized to confirm these properties, and a crystal structure reveals a short 3.43 A pi-pi stacking distance with favorable solubilizing substituent orientations. A family of 10 homopolymers and bithiophene copolymers is then synthesized via Yamamoto and Stille polymerizations, respectively. Two of these polymers are processable in common organic solvents: the homopolymer poly(N-(2-octyldodecyl)-2,2'-bithiophene-3,3'-dicarboximide) (P1) exhibits n-channel FET activity, and the copolymer poly(N-(2-octyldodecyl)-2,2':5',2'':5'',2'''-quaterthiophene-3,3'-dicarboximide) (P2) exhibits air-stable p-channel FET operation. After annealing, P1 films exhibit a very high degree of crystallinity and an electron mobility > 0.01 cm (2) V(-1) s(-1) with a current on-off ratio of 10 (7), which is remarkably independent of film-deposition conditions. Extraordinarily, P1 films also exhibit terracing in AFM images with a step height matching the X-ray diffraction d spacing, a rare phenomenon for polymeric organic semiconductors. Another fascinating property of these materials is the air-stable p-channel FET performance of annealed P2 films, which exhibit a hole mobility of approximately 0.01 cm(2) V(-1) s(-1) and a current on-off ratio of 10(7).

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