Morphology controls the thermoelectric power factor of a doped semiconducting polymer

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Science Advances  16 Jun 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 6, e1700434
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1700434

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The electrical performance of doped semiconducting polymers is strongly governed by processing methods and underlying thin-film microstructure. We report on the influence of different doping methods (solution versus vapor) on the thermoelectric power factor (PF) of PBTTT molecularly p-doped with FnTCNQ (n = 2 or 4). The vapor-doped films have more than two orders of magnitude higher electronic conductivity (σ) relative to solution-doped films. On the basis of resonant soft x-ray scattering, vapor-doped samples are shown to have a large orientational correlation length (OCL) (that is, length scale of aligned backbones) that correlates to a high apparent charge carrier mobility (μ). The Seebeck coefficient (α) is largely independent of OCL. This reveals that, unlike σ, leveraging strategies to improve μ have a smaller impact on α. Our best-performing sample with the largest OCL, vapor-doped PBTTT:F4TCNQ thin film, has a σ of 670 S/cm and an α of 42 μV/K, which translates to a large PF of 120 μW m−1 K−2. In addition, despite the unfavorable offset for charge transfer, doping by F2TCNQ also leads to a large PF of 70 μW m−1 K−2, which reveals the potential utility of weak molecular dopants. Overall, our work introduces important general processing guidelines for the continued development of doped semiconducting polymers for thermoelectrics.

  • Organic Semiconductor
  • Thermoelectric

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