6 research outputs found

    Interfacial Polymerization on Dynamic Complex Colloids: Creating Stabilized Janus Droplets

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    Complex emulsions, including Janus droplets, are becoming increasingly important in pharmaceuticals and medical diagnostics, the fabrication of microcapsules for drug delivery, chemical sensing, E-paper display technologies, and optics. Because fluid Janus droplets are often sensitive to external perturbation, such as unexpected changes in the concentration of the surfactants or surface-active biomolecules in the environment, stabilizing their morphology is critical for many real-world applications. To endow Janus droplets with resistance to external chemical perturbations, we demonstrate a general and robust method of creating polymeric hemispherical shells via interfacial free-radical polymerization on the Janus droplets. The polymeric hemispherical shells were characterized by optical and fluorescence microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and confocal laser scanning microscopy. By comparing phase diagrams of a regular Janus droplet and a Janus droplet with the hemispherical shell, we show that the formation of the hemispherical shell nearly doubles the range of the Janus morphology and maintains the Janus morphology upon a certain degree of external perturbation (e.g., adding hydrocarbon–water or fluorocarbon–water surfactants). We attribute the increased stability of the Janus droplets to (1) the surfactant nature of polymeric shell formed and (2) increase in interfacial tension between hydrocarbon and fluorocarbon due to polymer shell formation. This finding opens the door of utilizing these stabilized Janus droplets in a demanding environment

    Role of Mechanical Factors in Controlling the Structure–Function Relationship of PFSA Ionomers

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    Ion-conducting polymers are ideal solid electrolytes for most energy storage and conversion devices where ion transport is a critical functionality. The system performance and stability are related to the transport and mechanical properties of the ionomers, which are correlated through physiochemical interactions and morphology. Thus, there exists a balance between the chemical and mechanical energies which controls the structure–function relationship of the ionomer. In this paper, it is reported how and why thermal treatments result in different water uptakes and nanostructures for a perfluorinated sulfonic acid (PFSA) membrane. The nanostructure of the PFSA membrane is characterized using small- and wide-angle X-ray scattering experiments. These changes are correlated with water content and mechanical properties and result in fundamental relationships to characterize the membrane with different thermal histories. Moreover, quasi-equilibrium water uptake and domain spacing both decrease with predrying or preconstraining the membrane, thereby suggesting that similar mechanical energies govern the structural changes via internal and external constraints, respectively. The findings suggest that heat treatments alter the balance between the chemical–mechanical energies where the interplay of the morphology and mechanical properties controls the structure–function relationship of the membrane. Finally, a model is developed using an energy-balance approach with inputs of the mechanical and structural properties; the dependence of water uptake on pretreatment is successfully predicted

    Predicting the Mechanical Properties of Organic Semiconductors Using Coarse-Grained Molecular Dynamics Simulations

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    The ability to predict the mechanical properties of organic semiconductors is of critical importance for roll-to-roll production and thermomechanical reliability of organic electronic devices. Here, we describe the use of coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations to predict the density, tensile modulus, Poisson ratio, and glass transition temperature for poly­(3-hexyl­thiophene) (P3HT) and its blend with C<sub>60</sub>. In particular, we show that the resolution of the coarse-grained model has a strong effect on the predicted properties. We find that a one-site model, in which each 3-hexyl­thiophene unit is represented by one coarse-grained bead, predicts significantly inaccurate values of density and tensile modulus. In contrast, a three-site model, with one coarse-grained bead for the thiophene ring and two for the hexyl chain, predicts values that are very close to experimental measurements (density = 0.955 g cm<sup>–3</sup>, tensile modulus = 1.23 GPa, Poisson ratio = 0.35, and glass transition temperature = 290 K). The model also correctly predicts the strain-induced alignment of chains as well as the vitrification of P3HT by C<sub>60</sub> and the corresponding increase in the tensile modulus (tensile modulus = 1.92 GPa, glass transition temperature = 310 K). We also observe a decrease in the radius of gyration and the density of entanglements of the P3HT chains with the addition C<sub>60</sub> which may contribute to the experimentally noted brittleness of the composite material. Although extension of the model to poly­(3-alkyl­thiophenes) (P3ATs) containing side chains longer than hexyl groupsnonyl (N) and dodecyl (DD) groupscorrectly predicts the trend of decreasing modulus with increasing length of the side chain measured experimentally, obtaining absolute agreement for P3NT and P3DDT could not be accomplished by a straightforward extension of the three-site coarse-grained model, indicating limited transferability of such models. Nevertheless, the accurate values obtained for P3HT and P3HT:C<sub>60</sub> blends suggest that coarse graining is a valuable approach for predicting the thermomechanical properties of organic semiconductors of similar or more complex architectures

    Efficient Characterization of Bulk Heterojunction Films by Mapping Gradients by Reversible Contact with Liquid Metal Top Electrodes

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    The ways in which organic solar cells (OSCs) are measured and characterized are inefficient: many substrates must be coated with expensive or otherwise precious materials to test the effects of a single variable in processing. This serial, sample-by-sample approach also takes significant amounts of time on the part of the researcher. Combinatorial approaches to research OSCs generally do not permit microstructural characterization on the actual films from which photovoltaic measurements were made, or they require specialized equipment that is not widely available. This paper describes the formation of one- and two-dimensional gradients in morphology and thickness. Gradients in morphology are formed using gradient annealing, and gradients in thickness are formed using asymmetric spin coating. Use of a liquid metal top electrode, eutectic gallium–indium (EGaIn), allows reversible contact with the organic semiconductor film. Reversibility of contact permits subsequent characterization of the specific areas of the semiconductor film from which the photovoltaic parameters are obtained. Microstructural data from UV–vis experiments extracted using the weakly interacting H-aggregate model, along with atomic force microscopy, are correlated to the photovoltaic performance. The technique is used first on the model bulk heterojunction system comprising regioregular poly­(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) and the soluble fullerene derivative [6,6]-phenyl C<sub>61</sub> butyric acid methyl ester (PCBM). To demonstrate that the process can be used to optimize the thickness and annealing temperature using only small (≤10 mg) amounts of polymer, the technique was then applied to a bulk heterojunction blend comprising a difficult-to-obtain low-bandgap polymer. The combination of the use of gradients and a nondamaging top electrode allows for significant reduction in the amount of materials and time required to understand the effects of processing parameters and morphology on the performance of OSCs

    Insights into Magneto-Optics of Helical Conjugated Polymers

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    Materials with magneto-optic (MO) properties have enabled critical fiber-optic applications and highly sensitive magnetic field sensors. While traditional MO materials are inorganic in nature, new generations of MO materials based on organic semiconducting polymers could allow increased versatility for device architectures, manufacturing options, and flexible mechanics. However, the origin of MO activity in semiconducting polymers is far from understood. In this paper, we report high MO activity observed in a chiral helical poly-3-(alkylsulfone)­thiophene (<b>P3AST</b>), which confirms a new design for the creation of a giant Faraday effect with Verdet constants up to (7.63 ± 0.78) × 10<sup>4</sup> deg T<sup>–1</sup> m<sup>–1</sup> at 532 nm. We have determined that the sign of the Verdet constant and its magnitude are related to the helicity of the polymer at the measured wavelength. The Faraday rotation and the helical conformation of <b>P3AST</b> are modulated by thermal annealing, which is further supported by DFT calculations and MD simulations. Our results demonstrate that helical polymers exhibit enhanced Verdet constants and expand the previous design space for polythiophene MO materials that was thought to be limited to highly regular lamellar structures. The structure–property studies herein provide insights for the design of next-generation MO materials based upon semiconducting organic polymers

    Stretchable and Degradable Semiconducting Block Copolymers

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    This paper describes the synthesis and characterization of a class of highly stretchable and degradable semiconducting polymers. These materials are block copolymers (BCPs) in which the semiconducting blocks are based on the diketo­pyrrolopyrrole (DPP) unit flanked by furan rings and the insulating blocks are poly­(ε-caprolactone) (PCL). The combination of stiff conjugated segments with flexible aliphatic polyesters produces materials that can be stretched >100%. Remarkably, BCPs containing up to 90 wt % of insulating PCL have the same field-effect mobility as the pure semiconductor. Spectroscopic (ultraviolet–visible absorption) and morphological (atomic force microscopic) evidence suggests that the semiconducting blocks form aggregated and percolated structures with increasing content of the insulating PCL. Both PDPP and PCL segments in the BCPs degrade under simulated physiological conditions. Such materials could find use in wearable, implantable, and disposable electronic devices