The Relationship between Nanoscale Architecture and Function in Photovoltaic Multichromophoric Arrays as Visualized by Kelvin Probe Force Microscopy

V. Palermo, M.B.J. Otten, A. Liscio, E. Schwartz, P.A.J. de Witte, M.A. Castriciano, M.M. Wienk, F. Nolde, G.M. De Luca, Jeroen Johannes Lambertus Maria Cornelissen, R.A.J. Janssen, K. Müllen, A.E. Rowan, Roeland Nolte, P Samori

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The physicochemical properties of organic (multi)component films for optoelectronic applications depend on both the mesoscopic and nanoscale architectures within the semiconducting material. Two main classes of semiconducting materials are commonly used: polymers and (liquid) crystals of small aromatic molecules. Whereas polymers (e.g., polyphenylenevinylenes and polythiophenes) are easy to process in solution in thin and uniform layers, small molecules can form highly defined (liquid) crystals featuring high charge mobilities. Herein, we combine the two material types by employing structurally well-defined polyisocyanopeptide polymers as scaffolds to precisely arrange thousands of electron-accepting molecules, namely, perylenebis(dicarboximides) (PDIs), in defined chromophoric wires with lengths of hundreds of nanometers. The polymer backbone enforces high control over the spatial location of PDI dyes, favoring both enhanced exciton and charge transfer. When blended with an electron-donor system such as regioregular poly(3-hexylthiophene), this polymeric PDI shows a relative improvement in charge generation and diffusion with respect to monomeric, aggregated PDI. In order to correlate this enhanced behavior with respect to the architecture, atomic force microscopy investigations on the mixtures were carried out. These studies revealed that the two polymers form interpenetrated bundles having a nanophase-segregated character and featuring a high density of contact points between the two different phases. In order to visualize the relationship between the architecture and the photovoltaic efficiency, Kelvin probe force microscopy measurements were carried out on submonolayer-thick films. This technique allowed for the first time the direct visualization of the photovoltaic activity occurring in such a nanoscale phase-segregated ultrathin film with true nanoscale spatial resolution, thus making possible a study of the correlation between function and architecture with nanoscale resolution.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)14605-14614
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number44
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • METIS-306514

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