Molecular Structure and Conformational Design of Donor-Acceptor Conjugated Polymers to Enable Predictable Optoelectronic Property

ZQ Cao and SA Tolba and ZF Li and GT Mason and Y Wang and CW Do and S Rondeau-Gagné and WJ Xia and XD Gu, ADVANCED MATERIALS, 35 (2023).

DOI: 10.1002/adma.202302178

Tuning the optoelectronic properties of donor-acceptor conjugated polymers (D-A CPs) is of great importance in designing various organic optoelectronic devices. However, there remains a critical challenge in precise control of bandgap through synthetic approach, since the chain conformation also affects molecular orbital energy levels. Here, D-A CPs with different acceptor units are explored that show an opposite trend in energy band gaps with the increasing length of oligothiophene donor units. By investigating their chain conformation and molecular orbital energy, it is found that the molecular orbital energy alignment between donor and acceptor units plays a crucial role in dictating the final optical bandgap of D-A CPs. For polymers with staggered orbital energy alignment, the higher HOMO with increasing oligothiophene length leads to a narrowing of the optical bandgap despite decreased chain rigidity. On the other hand, for polymers with sandwiched orbital energy alignment, the increased band gap with increasing oligothiophene length originates from the reduction of bandwidth due to more localized charge density distribution. Thus, this work provides a molecular understanding of the role of backbone building blocks on the chain conformation and bandgaps of D-A CPs for organic optoelectronic devices through the conformation design and segment orbital energy alignment.

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