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Title: Functional surface-initiated polymers : device applications and polymerization techniques
Author: Hamelinck, Paul Johan
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2008
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Self-assembled monolayers and surface-initiated polymer, or polymer brushes, have attracted attention as they form dense layers with much higher structural order than bulk or solution polymers. Another field of research which has emerged over the last two decades is the field of organic and polymer electronics. In this field molecular order and surface modification are of major influence on the device performance, hence that both self-assembled monolayers as polymer brushes have been investigated to find applications in organic electronic devices. After an introduction into the field self-assembled monolayers, polymer brushes and organic electronics, the first part of this thesis focusses on three applications of surface modification techniques for applications in devices. Alignment of the active material is crucial for high mobilities in organic electronics. Chapter 2 discusses the synthesis of a liquid crystalline surface-initiated polymer and its application to induce strong homeotropic alignment. The alignment is homogeneous over large areas and can be patterned by combining the polymerization with soft lithographic techniques. Mobilities of organic electronic materials can also be strongly influenced by dopants in the material. In field-effect transistors the positioning of the dopant is thought to be crucial, as the conductance predominantly takes place in only a small channel near the dielectric interface. In chapter 3 dopant functionalized monolayers and polymer brushes are presented which enable the localized deposition of dopants in the channel of organic transistors. It is shown that the mobility of charges and hence the device performance is affected by the introduction of this dopant layer. Polymer brushes have been suggested for the fabrication of highly ordered semiconducting polymers. In chapter 4 the use of a thiophene functionalized polymer brush is shown, that can be used as a template for the subsequent growth of highly conjugated surface grafted polythiophene layers. Thick polythiophene layers are obtained, that are low in roughness and show photoluminescence and polychromism upon doping. The second part (chapter 5 and 6) of this thesis presents new techniques for surface polymerizations. It is attractive to investigate reduction of reactor volume for polymer brush growth. Chapter 5 discusses a method to achieve volume reduction by back-filling the superfluous volume with beads. It is found that this influences the polymerization kinetics significantly. The combined advantages of less volume and enhanced reaction speeds enable reduction of the total amount of monomer needed by up to 90%. Chapter 6 presents a controlled way to convert initiators for atom transfer radical polymerization into initiators for nitroxide mediated polymerization. In this way mixed polymer brushes and block co-polymer brushes become accessible. This combination makes it an attractive tool to fabricate complex polymer architectures. The technologies used in this thesis show that the synthesis of polymer brushes enable the fabrication of complex architectures without the wastes normally associated with surface-initiated polymers. Combined with several functionalized polymer brushes with properties that enhance order, influence mobility or serve as template for the growth of surface attached conjugated polymers this shows the high potential for the application of surface-initiated polymers in organic electronics.
Supervisor: Huck, Wilhelm T. S. Sponsor: Merck Chemical Ltd ; Cambridge European Trust ; Isaac Newton Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: surface-initiated polymers ; polymer electronics ; organic electronics ; alignment of liquid crystals ; semiconducting polymers ; polymerization kinetics ; block co-polymer brushes ; nitroxide mediated polymerization ; atom transfer radical polymerization