Journal article Open Access
Stefano Pecorario; Jeroen Royakkers; Alberto D. Scaccabarozzi; Francesca Pallini; Luca Beverina; Hugo Bronstein; Mario Caironi
Engineering the molecular structure of conjugated polymers is key to advancing the field of organic electronics. In this work, we synthesized a molecularly encapsulated version of the naphthalene diimide bithiophene copolymer PNDIT2, which is among the most popular high charge mobility organic semiconductors in n-type field-effect transistors and non-fullerene acceptors in organic photovoltaic blends. The encapsulating macrocycles shield the bithiophene units while leaving the naphthalene diimide units available for intermolecular interactions. With respect to PNDIT2, the encapsulated counterpart displays an increased backbone planarity. Molecular encapsulation prevents preaggregation of the polymer chains in common organic solvents, while it permits π-stacking in the solid state and promotes thin film crystallinity through an intermolecular-lock mechanism. Consequently, n-type semiconducting behavior is retained in field-effect transistors, although charge mobility is lower than in PNDIT2 due to the absence of the fibrillar microstructure that originates from preaggregation in solution. Hence, molecularly encapsulating conjugated polymers represent a promising chemical strategy to tune the molecular interaction in solution and the backbone conformation and to consequently control the nanomorphology of casted films without altering the electronic structure of the core polymer.