Single-Molecule Spectroscopy for Plastic Electronics: Materials Analysis from the Bottom-Up



π-conjugated polymers find a range of applications in electronic devices. These materials are generally highly disordered in terms of chain length and chain conformation, besides being influenced by a variety of chemical and physical defects. Although this characteristic can be of benefit in certain device applications, disorder severely complicates materials analysis. Accurate analytical techniques are, however, crucial to optimising synthetic procedures and assessing overall material purity. Fortunately, single-molecule spectroscopic techniques have emerged as an unlikely but uniquely powerful approach to unraveling intrinsic material properties from the bottom up. Building on the success of such techniques in the life sciences, single-molecule spectroscopy is finding increasing applicability in materials science, effectively enabling the dissection of the bulk down to the level of the individual molecular constituent. This article reviews recent progress in single molecule spectroscopy of conjugated polymers as used in organic electronics.