Influence of solvent polarity on the structure of drop-cast electroactive tetra(aniline)-surfactant thin films†
The influence of processing conditions on the thin film microstructure is a fundamental question that must be understood to improve the performance of solution-processed organic electronic materials. Using grazing-incidence X-ray diffraction, we have studied the structure of thin films of a tetra(aniline)-surfactant complex prepared by drop-casting from five solvents (hexane, chloroform, tetrahydrofuran, dichloromethane and ethanol), selected to cover a range of polarities. We found that the structure, level of order and degree of orientation relative to the substrate were extremely sensitive to the solvent used. We have attempted to correlate such solvent sensitivity with a variety of solvent physical parameters. Of particular significance is the observation of a sharp structural transition in the thin films cast from more polar solvents; such films presented significantly greater crystallinity as measured by the coherence length and paracrystalline disorder parameter. We attribute this higher structural order to enhanced dissociation of the acid surfactant in the more polar solvents, which in turn promotes complex formation. Furthermore, the more polar solvents provide more effective screening of (i) the attractive ionic interaction between oppositely charged molecules, providing greater opportunity for dynamic reorganisation of the supramolecular aggregates into more perfect structures; and (ii) the repulsive interaction between the positively charged blocks permitting a solvophobic-driven aggregation of the aromatic surfaces during solvent evaporation.