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Keywords:

  • Epitaxial growth;
  • Polymeric materials;
  • Polythiophenes;
  • Superconductivity;
  • Thin films, polymer

Abstract

Regioregular head-to-tail (HT)-coupled poly(3-hexylthiophene-2,5-diyl) (P3HT) with a weight-average molecular weight (Mw) in the 7.3–69.6 kDa range is crystallized by directional epitaxial solidification in 1,3,5-trichlorobenzene (TCB) to yield highly oriented thin films. An oriented and periodic lamellar structure consisting of crystalline lamellae separated by amorphous interlamellar zones is evidenced by atomic force microscopy (AFM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Both the overall crystallinity as well as the orientation of the crystalline lamellae decrease significantly with increasing Mw. The total lamellar periodicity is close to the length of “fully extended” chains for Mw = 7.3 kDa (polystyrene-equivalent molecular weight, eq. PS) and it saturates to a value of ca. (25–28) ± 2 nm for Mw ≥ 18.8 kDa (eq. PS). This behavior is attributed to a transition from an oligomeric-like system, for which P3HT chains are essentially in a fully extended all-trans conformation and do not fold, to a semicrystalline system that involves a periodic alternation of crystalline lamellae separated by extended amorphous interlamellar zones, which harbor chain folds, chain ends, and tie molecules. For P3HT with Mw of ca. 7.3 kDa (eq. PS), epitaxial crystallization on TCB allows for the growth of both “edge-on” and “flat-on” oriented crystalline lamellae on the TCB substrate. The orientation of the lamellae is attributed to 1D epitaxy. Because of the large size of the “flat-on” crystalline lamellae, a characteristic single-crystal electron diffraction pattern corresponding to the [001] zone was obtained by selected area electron diffraction (SAED), indicating that P3HT crystallizes in a monoclinic unit cell with a = 16.0 Å, b = 7.8 Å, c = 7.8 Å, and γ = 93.5°.