Synthesis of conjugated polymers and block copolymers via catalyst transfer polycondensation
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Conjugated polymers hold tremendous potential as low-cost, solution processable materials for electronic applications such organic light-emitting diodes and photovoltaics. While the concerted efforts of many research groups have improved the performance of organic electronic devices to near-relevant levels for commercial exploitation over the last decade, the overall performance of organic light-emitting diode and organic photovoltaic devices still lags behind that of their traditional, inorganic counterparts. Realizing the full potential of organic electronics will require a comprehensive, molecular-level understanding of conjugated polymer photophysics. Studying pure, well-defined, and reproducible conjugated polymer materials should enable these efforts; unfortunately, conjugated polymers are typically synthesized by metal-catalyzed step-growth polycondensation reactions that do not allow for rigorous control over polymer molecular weight or molecular weight distribution (i.e., dispersity). Chain-growth syntheses of conjugated polymers would not only allow for precise control over the aforementioned polymer metrics such as molecular weight and dispersity, but could also potentially create new applications by enabling the preparation of more advanced macromolecular structures such as block copolymers and surface grafted polymers. Our efforts toward realizing these goals as well as toward exploiting chain-growth methodologies to better understand fundamental conjugated polymer photophysics and self-assembly will be presented.