Chemistry ETDs


Alan Thomas

Publication Date



Intermolecular electronic interactions, dipole coupling and orbital overlap, caused by π-π stacking in organic conjugated polymers lead to unique structures and properties that can be harnessed for optoelectronic applications. These interactions define structure-function relationships in amorphous and aggregated forms of polymers in the solid state and determine their efficiencies and functionality in electronic devices, from transistors to solar cells. Organic polymer electronic device performance depends critically upon electronic coupling between monomer units --mediated by conformation and packing characteristics -- that dictates electronic properties like conductivity and capacitance as well as electronic processes, such as charge carrier generation and transport. This dissertation demonstrates how electronic processes in conjugated polymers are mediated by subtle inter- and intra-chain electronic interactions imparted by the conformational degrees of freedom within their solid state structure and how this effects device performance. To initiate this investigation into structure-function relationships, an examination of nanoparticles representing two limiting aggregation states of the conjugated polymer poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) was conducted. These aggregates are defined by their predominate form of electronic coupling, inter- or intrachain, called H- and J-aggregates respectively. H- or J-aggregates of P3HT were embedded in an insulating matrix and time-resolved fluorescence intensity modulation spectroscopy was utilized to uncover the existence of efficient singlet-triplet quenching in J aggregates not present in H-aggregates. These studies were extended by examining P3HT H-and J-aggregates under applied electric fields in capacitor type devices using multiple time-resolved and steady-state spectroscopic techniques. These experiments reveal electronic couplings in J aggregates that shift excited state population towards a majority composed of long lived, quenchable, isolated singlet excitations. The structure of J aggregates which leads to isolated excitations, and the role which inter-chain contact sites play in triplet formation from these singlet excitations is revealed. New structure-function relationships were uncovered in poly (3-alkyl-thienylenevinylene) (P3ATV) derivatives using resonance Raman and photocurrent spectroscopies. Time-dependent spectroscopic theory was used to interpret experimental Raman and absorption spectra that revealed the presence of structural polymorphs. These polymorphs provide an explanation of the spectroscopic evidence without presumption of a deactivating dark state in this unusually non-fluorescence material. Photovoltaic devices constructed from blends of poly (2,5-bis(3-tetradecylthiophen-2-yl)thieno[3,2-b]thiophene) (PBTTT) and PCBM blends were examined using Raman and photocurrent imaging techniques. These techniques were used to identify different packing states in blended thin films and correlate photocurrent production with local order. Intensity modulated spectroscopic techniques (IMPS) were then used to locate regions of non-geminate charge recombination at interfaces between amorphous and crystalline regions in working devices. Next, P3HT/PCBM OPV devices were exposed to ionizing radiation in a vacuum chamber. These devices were characterized before and after exposure, using standardized solar cell tests, Raman imaging, wide-field IMPS, and IMVS spectroscopies. An analysis of the spectroscopic data determined that the donor polymer is highly resistant to radiation damage, and that the degradation of device performance is due to an effect (cross-linking or degradation) within aggregates of the acceptor. This dissertation concludes with an interpretation of the significance of the findings contained herein to organic electronics, followed by a brief outlook for future work in these fields. Potential theories to describe and predict molecular interactions for organic polymers in the solid state based upon their structure are discussed here. This section also covers applications to device and material design features, from molecular considerations to engineered architectures.

Project Sponsors

National Science Foundation, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, New Mexico Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research




polymer structure, excitons, aggregates, electronic coupling, photovoltaics, organic electronics

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology

First Advisor

Grey, John

First Committee Member (Chair)

Qin, Yang

Second Committee Member

Habteyes, Terefe

Third Committee Member

Dunlap, David