Direct heteroarylation polymerization: guidelines for defect-free conjugated polymers
Direct (hetero)arylation polymerization (DHAP) has emerged as a valuable and atom-economical alternative to traditional cross-coupling methods for the synthesis of low-cost and efficient conjugated polymers for organic electronics. However, when applied to the synthesis of certain (hetero)arene-based materials, a lack of C–H bond selectivity has been observed. To prevent such undesirable side-reactions, we report the design and synthesis of new, bulky, phosphine-based ligands that significantly enhance selectivity of the DHAP process for both halogenated and non-halogenated electron-rich and electron-deficient thiophene-based comonomers. To better understand the selectivity issues, density functional theory (DFT) calculations have been performed on various halogenated and non-halogenated electron-rich and electron-deficient thiophene-based comonomers. Calculations showed that the presence of bromine atoms decreases the energy of activation (Ea) of the adjacent C–H bonds, allowing undesirable β-defects for some brominated aromatic units. Both calculations and the new ligands should lead to the rational design of monomers and methods for the preparation of defect-free conjugated polymers from DHAP.