Single molecule spectroscopy of polyfluorene chains reveals β-phase content and phase reversibility in organic solvents
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Conjugated polymers are an important class of organic semiconductors that can be deposited from solution to make optoelectronic devices. Among them, poly(9,9′-dioctylfluorene) (PFO) has distinctive optical properties arising from its ability to adopt an ordered planar conformation (β phase) from a disordered glassy phase (α phase). The β phase has attractive optical properties, but the precise mechanism of its formation in solution remains unknown. Here, we have combined specifically tailored polymer synthesis and surface-passivation strategies to provide the first spectroscopic characterization of single PFO chains in solution at room temperature. By anchoring PFO molecules at one end on an anti-adherent surface, we show that isolated chains can adopt the β-phase conformation in a solvent-dependent manner. Furthermore, we find that individual PFO chains can reversibly switch multiple times between phases in response to solvent-exchange events. The methodology presented here for polymer synthesis and immobilization is widely applicable to investigate other luminescent polymers.
Brenlla , A , Tenopala-Carmona , F , Kanibolotsky , A L , Skabara , P J , Samuel , I D W & Penedo-Esteiro , J C 2019 , ' Single molecule spectroscopy of polyfluorene chains reveals β-phase content and phase reversibility in organic solvents ' , Matter , vol. In press . https://doi.org/10.1016/j.matt.2019.07.020
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