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ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2015 Oct 21;7(41):23257-64. doi: 10.1021/acsami.5b08628. Epub 2015 Oct 9.

Yield Point of Semiconducting Polymer Films on Stretchable Substrates Determined by Onset of Buckling.

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Department of NanoEngineering, University of California, San Diego , 9500 Gilman Drive, Mail Code 0448, La Jolla, California 92093-0448, United States.


Mechanical buckling of thin films on elastomeric substrates is often used to determine the mechanical properties of polymers whose scarcity precludes obtaining a stress-strain curve. Although the modulus and crack-onset strain can readily be obtained by such film-on-elastomer systems, information critical to the development of flexible, stretchable, and mechanically robust electronics (i.e., the range of strains over which the material exhibits elastic behavior) cannot be measured easily. This paper describes a new technique called laser determination of yield point (LADYP), in which a polymer film on an elastic substrate is subjected to cycles of tensile strain that incrementally increase in steps of 1% (i.e., 0% → 1% → 0% → 2% → 0% → 3% → 0%, etc.). The formation of buckles manifests as a diffraction pattern obtained using a laser, and represents the onset of plastic deformation, or the yield point of the polymer. In the series of conjugated polymers poly(3-alkylthiophene), where the alkyl chain is pentyl, hexyl, heptyl, octyl, and dodecyl, the yield point is found to increase with increasing length of the side chain (from approximately 5% to 15% over this range when holding the thickness between ∼200 and 300 nm). A skin-depth effect is observed in which films of <150 nm thickness exhibit substantially greater yield points, up to 40% for poly(3-dodecylthiophene). Along with the tensile modulus obtained by the conventional analysis of the buckling instability, knowledge of the yield point allows one to calculate the modulus of resilience. Combined with knowledge of the crack-onset strain, one can estimate the total energy absorbed by the film (i.e., the modulus of toughness).


P3ATs; buckling-based metrology; film-on-elastomer system; organic semiconductors; thin films; yield point


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