Identification of the local electrical properties of crystalline and amorphous domains in electrochemically doped conjugated polymer thin films†
Doped polymer thin films have several applications in electronic, optoelectronic and thermoelectric devices. Often the electrical properties of doped conjugated polymer thin films are affected by their local physical and mechanical characteristics. However, investigations into the effects of doping on local domain properties have not been carried out. Here, we study the physical, mechanical and optical properties of electrochemically doped P3HT thin films at the nanoscale and establish a relation between doping level and the physical properties of P3HT thin films. Bulk crystallinity of both pristine and doped P3HT thin films, characterized using grazing incidence X-ray diffraction, shows a clear loss in crystallinity upon doping. Nanoscale crystalline and amorphous domains in the films are visualized by multimode atomic force microscopy (AFM). It is apparent that the crystalline domains are most affected by doping and have a higher degree of doping compared to amorphous domains. This results in crystalline domains exhibiting superior electrical conductivity at a local level. These results are further supported by Raman mapping and elemental analysis of doped films. A direct relation is established between the physical, mechanical and electrical properties of doped P3HT thin films based on the AFM data. The findings demonstrate that higher dopant concentrations are found in crystalline domains compared to amorphous domains, which has not been shown before to the best of our knowledge. This study can be used to optimize the electronic properties of doped P3HT thin films for use in electronic and optoelectronic device applications.