Ferroelectric self-assembled molecular materials showing both rectifying and switchable conductivity

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Science Advances  29 Sep 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 9, e1701017
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1701017

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Advanced molecular materials that combine two or more physical properties are typically constructed by combining different molecules, each being responsible for one of the properties required. Ideally, single molecules could take care of this combined functionality, provided they are self-assembled correctly and endowed with different functional subunits whose strong electronic coupling may lead to the emergence of unprecedented and exciting properties. We present a class of disc-like semiconducting organic molecules that are functionalized with strong dipolar side groups. Supramolecular organization of these materials provides long-range polar order that supports collective ferroelectric behavior of the side groups as well as charge transport through the stacked semiconducting cores. The ferroelectric polarization in these supramolecular polymers is found to couple to the charge transport and leads to a bulk conductivity that is both switchable and rectifying. An intuitive model is developed and found to quantitatively reproduce the experimental observations. In a larger perspective, these results highlight the possibility of modulating material properties using the large electric fields associated with ferroelectric polarization.

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