Conformational Heterogeneity and Interchain Percolation Revealed in an Amorphous Conjugated Polymer

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Abstract

Conjugated polymers are employed in a variety of application areas due to their bright fluorescence and strong biocompatibility. However, understanding the structure of amorphous conjugated polymers on the nanoscale is extremely challenging compared to their related crystalline phases. Using a bespoke classical force field, we study amorphous poly(9,9-di-n-octylfluorene-alt-benzothiadiazole) (F8BT) with molecular dynamics simulations to investigate the role that its nanoscale structure plays in controlling its emergent (and all-important) optical properties. Notably, we show that a giant percolating cluster exists within amorphous F8BT, which has ramifications in understanding the nature of interchain species that drive the quantum yield reduction and bathochromic shift observed in conjugated polymer-based devices and nanostructures. We also show that distinct conformations can be unravelled from within the disordered structure of amorphous F8BT using a two-stage machine learning protocol, highlighting a link between molecular conformation and ring stacking propensity. This work provides predictive understanding by which to enhance the optical properties of next-generation conjugated polymer-based devices and materials by rational, simulation-led design principles.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14432-14442
Number of pages11
JournalACS Nano
Volume16
Issue number9
Early online date22 Sept 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Sept 2022

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