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Single molecule spectroscopy of polyfluorene chains reveals β-phase content and phase reversibility in organic solvents

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Abstract

Conjugated polymers are an important class of organic semiconductors that can be deposited from solution to make optoelectronic devices. Among them, poly(9,9′-dioctylfluorene) (PFO) has distinctive optical properties arising from its ability to adopt an ordered planar conformation (β phase) from a disordered glassy phase (α phase). The β phase has attractive optical properties, but the precise mechanism of its formation in solution remains unknown. Here, we have combined specifically tailored polymer synthesis and surface-passivation strategies to provide the first spectroscopic characterization of single PFO chains in solution at room temperature. By anchoring PFO molecules at one end on an anti-adherent surface, we show that isolated chains can adopt the β-phase conformation in a solvent-dependent manner. Furthermore, we find that individual PFO chains can reversibly switch multiple times between phases in response to solvent-exchange events. The methodology presented here for polymer synthesis and immobilization is widely applicable to investigate other luminescent polymers.
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Original languageEnglish
JournalMatter
VolumeIn press
Early online date9 Oct 2019
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Oct 2019

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