Best of both worlds: Conjugated polymers exhibiting good photovoltaic behavior and high tensile elasticity

Suchol Savagatrup, Adam D. Printz, Daniel Rodriquez, Darren J. Lipomi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Scopus citations


This paper examines a series of poly(3-alkylthiophene)s (P3ATs), a class of materials for which mechanical compliance and electronic performance have been observed to be in competition. P3ATs with longer alkyl side chains (n ≥ 8) have high elasticity and ductility, but poor electronic performance (as manifested in photovoltaic efficiency in blends with fullerenes); P3ATs with shorter chains (n ≤ 6) exhibit the opposite characteristics. A series of four polymer films in which the average length of the side chain is n = 7 is tested using mechanical, spectroscopic, microscopic, and photovoltaic device-based measurements to determine whether or not it is possible, in principle, to maximize both mechanical and electronic performance in a single organic semiconductor (the "best of both worlds"). The four polymer samples are (1) a physical blend of equal parts P3HT and P3OT (P3HT:P3OT, n = 6 and n = 8), (2) a block copolymer (P3HT-b-P3OT), (3) a random copolymer (P3HT-co-P3OT), and (4) poly(3-heptylthiophene) (P3HpT, n = 7). The tensile moduli obtained by mechanical buckling correlate well with spectroscopic evidence (using the weakly interacting H aggregate model) of a well-ordered microstructure of the polymers. The block copolymer was the stiffest of the hybrid samples (680 ± 180 MPa), while P3HpT exhibited maximum compliance (70 ± 10 MPa) and power conversion efficiency in a 1:1 blend with the fullerene PC 61BM using stretchable electrodes (PCE = 2.16 ± 0.17%) that was similar to that of P3HT:PC61BM. These analyses may permit the design of organic semiconductors with improved mechanical and electronic properties for mechanically robust and stretchable applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1981-1992
Number of pages12
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 25 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry


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