Understanding of conjugated polymer morphology formation and the structure-property relationships from the single chain level to the bulk level
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Morphology is the origin of life and function. Defining and designing morphology, understanding the relationship between morphology and function, is an essential theme in a number of research areas. In conjugated polymer research, the major obstacles to achieving these goals are the heterogeneity and complexity of conjugated polymer films. In the study presented in this dissertation, various single molecule spectroscopy techniques were used as an approach to minimize the complexity of these problems. By using excitation polarization spectroscopy, it was discovered that single chains of poly[2-methoxy-5-(2'-ethylhexyloxy)-1,4-phenylenevinylene] (MEH-PPV) assume a highly ordered rod conformation despite the fact that the morphology of bulk films is known to be amorphous. The comparison of results from experiments and a coarse grained bead-on-a-chain simulation suggested that single chains have the ability to use a thermally induced defect to maximize [pi]-[pi] stacking and adopt a rod conformation as a stable conformation. Bias-induced centroid spectroscopy (BIC) on highly ordered single chains demonstrated that the energy transfer scale could be an order of magnitude larger than the value typically measured for bulk films. It was further demonstrated that such an extraordinary long energy transfer was not a unique property of single chains but was also observed in aggregates as long as the morphology was ordered. These studies were extended to another model compound poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) to generalize the mechanism of morphology formation and the structure-property relationship. For P3HT, it was shown that side-chains were a very important factor in determining single chain conformation, while the conformation of MEH-PPV was not affected by side-chains. By controlling the side-chains, both ordered and disordered P3HT chains were obtained. The comparison of results from experiments and an energy transfer model simulation quantified that energy transfer was at least twice as efficient in ordered chains as in disordered chains. In aggregates, the difference between the energy transfer efficiency of ordered and disordered morphology was even larger than that in the case of single chains. These results could suggest that there is a very fast energy transfer mechanism that occurs through interchain interactions when chains are packed in ordered fashion.