Carbon nanotubes assisting interchain charge transport in semiconducting polymer thin films towards much improved charge carrier mobility

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  • ReceivedOct 31, 2018
  • AcceptedDec 17, 2018
  • PublishedJan 7, 2019


Conjugated polymers attracted much attention in the past few decades due to their wide applications in various optoelectronic devices and circuits. The charge transport process in conjugated polymers mainly occurs in the intrachain and interchain parts, where the interchain charge transport is generally slower than intrachain transport and may slow down the whole charge transport properties. Aiming at this issue, herein we employ semiconducting single-walled carbon nanotubes (s-SWNTs) as efficient charge-transporting jointing channels between conjugated polymer chains for improving the charge transport performance. Taking thetypical conjugated polymer, ploy-N-alkyl-diketopyrrolo-pyrrole-dithienylthieno[3,2-b]thiophene (PDPP-TT) as an example, polymer thin film transistors (PTFTs) based on the optimized blended films of PDPP-TT/s-SWNTs exhibit an obviously increasing device performance compared with the devices based on pure PDPP-TT films, with the hole and electron mobility increased from 2.32 to 12.32 cm2 V−1 s−1 and from 2.02 to 5.77 cm2 V−1 s−1, respectively. This result suggests the importance of forming continuous conducting channelsin conjugated polymer thin films, which can also be extended to other polymeric electronic and optoelectronic devices to promote their potential applications in large-area, low-cost and high performance polymeric electronic devices andcircuits.

Funded by

These authors acknowledge the financial support from the Ministry of Science and Technology of China(2017YFA0204503,2016YFB0401100)

the National Natural Science Foundation of China(51725304,51633006,51703159,51733004,21875259)

the Strategic Priority Research Program(XDB12030300)


The authors acknowledge the financial support from the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (2017YFA0204503 and 2016YFB0401100), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (51725304, 51633006, 51703159, 51733004 and 21875259), the Strategic Priority Research Program (XDB12030300) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the National Program for Support of Top-notch Young Professionals.

Interest statement

These authors declare no conflict of interest.

Contributions statement

Hu W, Zhang J and Dong H supervised the project and designed the experiment. Zheng Z performed the experiments with support from Dong H and Hu W. Ni Z provided the polymers and gave instruction in the fabrication of polymer device. Zhang J’s group provided the s-SWNTs. Zhang X and Zhen Y gave valuable suggestion during the characterizations. Zheng Z and Dong H wrote the manuscript and all authors contributed to the general discussions.

Author information

Zhe Zheng received his Bachelor degree from Tianjin University in 2014 and is a doctoral candidate at Tianjin University now. His research interest focuses on the separation of semiconducting carbon nanotubes and their applications in field-effect transistors with conjugated polymers.

Huanli Dong received her PhD degree from the Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences (ICCAS) in 2009. Now she is a professor of the Key Laboratory of Organic Solids, ICCAS. She has received the Outstanding Young Scientist Foundation of NSFC (2012), the Prize for Young Chemists of Chinese Chemical Society (2014) and the National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars (2017). Her research interest focuses on organic polymers and crystals devices, especially optoelectronics.

Jin Zhang received his PhD degree from Lanzhou University in 1997. He has been a professor of Peking University since 2006. He received the National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars (2007), was selected as a Cheung Kong Professor of the Ministry of Education, China (2012), and Ten-Thousand Talents Program Innovation Leaders of the Ministry of Science and Technology (2017). He is mainly engaged in the control synthesis, application and Raman spectroscopy of nano-carbon materials.

Wenping Hu received his PhD from ICCAS in 1999. He is a professor of the School of Science, Tianjin University. And he received the National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars (2007), was selected as a Cheung Kong Professor of the Ministry of Education, China (2014) and Ten-Thousand Talents Program Innovation Leaders of the Ministry of Science and Technology (2016). His research focuses on organic optoelectronics.


Supplementary information

Supporting data are available in the online version of the paper.


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  • Figure 1

    (a) The illustration of BCTG PTFT. (b) With the introduction of s-SWNTs, the movement path of charge carriers changed from a loose contact between the polymers to tough contact of polymer and s-SWNTs. Besides, a brief model shows a slow transport (red circle) in PDPP-TT interchain transport and fast transport (blue rectangle) in the PDPP-TT/s-SWNTs interchain transport.

  • Figure 2

    (a) The process for combination of polymer and s-SWNTs under ultrasonication with the probe dipped into solution. In the initial state, the polymer existed in the solution and the s-SWNTs laid on the filter membrane. With the sonication going on, the s-SWNTs started to leave the membrane and collided with polymers which then wrapped tightly on the s-SWNTs finally. AFM images of (b) polymer and (c) polymer combined with s-SWNTs; (d) Raman spectrum of two kinds of materials, and the inset is 1,590 cm−1 peak attributed to G-peak of s-SWNTs; (e) UV-vis-NIR spectrum of polymer combined with s-SWNTs on the double-sided polishing quartz, and the inset is the S11 (1,600–2,000 nm) and S22(1,000–1,200 nm) absorption of s-SWNTs.

  • Figure 3

    (a, b) The p-type transfer and output characteristic curves of the devices based on PDPP-TT/s-SWNTs; (c, d) the n-type transfer and output characteristic curves of the devices based on PDPP-TT/s-SWNTs. (e--h) The corresponding transfer and output characteristic curves of the devices based on PDPP-TT.

  • Figure 4

    The statistical data of mobility of two kinds of materials, (a) scatter diagram and (b) bar graph of μh; (c) scatter diagram and (d) bar graph of μe. (e) The 2D distribution diagram of μh and μe of devices based on PDPP-TT/s-SWNTs, which shows the good uniformity of mobility.

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