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Nature. 2014 Nov 20;515(7527):384-8. doi: 10.1038/nature13854. Epub 2014 Nov 5.

Approaching disorder-free transport in high-mobility conjugated polymers.

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Optoelectronics Group, Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge, JJ Thomson Avenue, Cambridge CB3 0HE, UK.
Laboratory for Chemistry of Novel Materials, Université de Mons, 20 Place du Parc, 7000 Mons, Belgium.
Centre for Science at Extreme Conditions, University of Edinburgh, Mayfield Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JZ, UK.
Department of Chemistry and Centre for Plastic Electronics, Imperial College London, London SW7 2AZ, UK.
Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of New Mexico, 1919 Lomas Boulevard Northeast, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87131, USA.


Conjugated polymers enable the production of flexible semiconductor devices that can be processed from solution at low temperatures. Over the past 25 years, device performance has improved greatly as a wide variety of molecular structures have been studied. However, one major limitation has not been overcome; transport properties in polymer films are still limited by pervasive conformational and energetic disorder. This not only limits the rational design of materials with higher performance, but also prevents the study of physical phenomena associated with an extended π-electron delocalization along the polymer backbone. Here we report a comparative transport study of several high-mobility conjugated polymers by field-effect-modulated Seebeck, transistor and sub-bandgap optical absorption measurements. We show that in several of these polymers, most notably in a recently reported, indacenodithiophene-based donor-acceptor copolymer with a near-amorphous microstructure, the charge transport properties approach intrinsic disorder-free limits at which all molecular sites are thermally accessible. Molecular dynamics simulations identify the origin of this long sought-after regime as a planar, torsion-free backbone conformation that is surprisingly resilient to side-chain disorder. Our results provide molecular-design guidelines for 'disorder-free' conjugated polymers.


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