Semiconducting Materials for Organic Electronic Applications
Iain McCulloch, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
The evolution of organic electronics has now reached the commercial phase, with the recent market introduction of the first prototypes based on organic transistors and organic solar cell modules fabricated from solution. Understanding the impact of both the organic semiconductor design and processing conditions, on both molecular conformation and thin film microstructure has been demonstrated to be essential in achieving the required optical and electrical properties to enable these devices. Polymeric semiconductors offer an attractive combination in terms of appropriate solution rheology for printing processes, mechanical flexibility for rollable processing and applications, but their optical and electrical performance requires further improvement in order to fulfil their potential. Synthesis of conjugated aromatic polymers typically involves carbon coupling polymerisations utilising transition metal catalysts and metal containing monomers. This polymerisation chemistry creates polymers where the aromatic repeat units are linked by single carbon-carbon bonds along the backbone. In order to reduce potential conformational, and subsequently energetic, disorder due to rotation around these single bonds, an aldol condensation reaction was explored, in which a bisisatin monomer reacts with a bisoxindole monomer to create an isoindigo repeat unit that is fully fused along the polymer backbone. This aldol polymerization requires neither metal containing monomers or transition-metal catalysts, opening up new synthetic possibilities for conjugated aromatic polymer design, particularly where both monomers are electron deficient. Polymers with very large electron affinities can be synthesised by this method, resulting in air stable electron transport, demonstrated in solution processed organic thin film transistors. We present an electrical, optical and morphology characterisation of polymer thin films, illustrating structure-property relationships for this new class of polymers. Organic electrochemical transistors (OECTs) have been shown to be promising devices for amplification of electrical signals and selective sensing of ions and biologically important molecules in an aqueous environment, and thus have potential to be utilised in bioelectronic applications. The sensitivity, selectivity and intensity of the response of this device is determined by the organic semiconducting polymer employed as the active layer. This work presents the design of new organic semiconducting materials which demonstrate significant improvements in OECT performance, through operation in accumulation mode, with high transconductance and low operating voltage.