Influence of Molecular Aggregation on Electron Transfer at the Perylene Diimide/Indium-Tin Oxide Interface

Yilong Zheng, Fadi M. Jradi, Timothy C. Parker, Stephen Barlow, Seth R. Marder, S. Scott Saavedra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Chemisorption of an organic monolayer to tune the surface properties of a transparent conductive oxide (TCO) electrode can improve the performance of organic electronic devices that rely on efficient charge transfer between an organic active layer and a TCO contact. Here, a series of perylene diimides (PDIs) was synthesized and used to study relationships between monolayer structure/properties and electron transfer kinetics at PDI-modified indium-tin oxide (ITO) electrodes. In these PDI molecules, one of the imide substituents is a benzene ring bearing a phosphonic acid (PA) and the other is a bulky aryl group that is twisted out of the plane of the PDI core. The size of the bulky aryl group and the substitution of the benzene ring bearing the PA were both varied, which altered the extent of aggregation when these molecules were absorbed as monolayer films (MLs) on ITO, as revealed by both attenuated total reflectance (ATR) and total internal reflection fluorescence spectra. Polarized ATR measurements indicate that, in these MLs, the long axis of the PDI core is tilted at an angle of 33-42° relative to the surface normal; the tilt angle increased as the degree of bulky substitution increased. Rate constants for electron transfer (ks,opt) between these redox-active modifiers and ITO were determined by potential-modulated ATR spectroscopy. As the degree of PDI aggregation was reduced, ks,opt declined, which is attributed to a reduction in the lateral electron self-exchange rate between adsorbed PDI molecules, as well as the heterogeneous conductivity of the ITO electrode surface. Photoelectrochemical measurements using a dissolved aluminum phthalocyanine as an electron donor showed that ITO modified with any of these PDIs is a more effective electron-collecting electrode than bare ITO.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34089-34097
Number of pages9
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number49
StatePublished - Dec 14 2016


  • electrochemistry
  • electron self-exchange
  • electron transfer
  • indium-tin oxide
  • organic electronics
  • perylene diimide
  • phosphonic acid
  • potential-modulated ATR spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)


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