Polytellurophenes provide imaging contrast towards unravelling the structure–property–function relationships in semiconductor:insulator polymer blends†
Polymer blends are broadly important in chemical science and chemical engineering and have led to a wide range of commercial products, however their precise structure and phase morphology is often not well understood. Here we show for the first time that π-conjugated polytellurophenes and high-density polyethylene form blends that can serve as active layers in field-effect transistor devices and can be characterized by a variety of element-specific imaging techniques such as STEM and EDX. Changing the hydrocarbon content and degree of branching on the polytellurophene side-chain leads to a variety of blend structures, and these variations can be readily visualized. Characterization by electron microscopy is complemented by topographic and X-ray methods to establish a nano- to micro-scale picture of these systems. We find that blends that possess microscale networks function best as electronic devices; however, contrary to previous notions a strong correlation between nanofiber formation and electrical performance is not observed. Our work demonstrates that use of organometallic polymers assists in clarifying relevant structure–property–function relationships in multicomponent systems such as semiconductor:insulator blends and sheds light on the structure development in polymer:polymer blends including crystallization, phase separation, and formation of supramolecular arrangements.