Size-dependent fluorescence of conjugated polymer dots and correlation with the fluorescence in solution and in the solid phase of the polymer†
Three conjugated polymers (CPs) were synthesized to obtain CPs with the same backbone but with different compositions of repeat units (phenylene and benzoselenadiazole (BSD)). The dominant composition of phenylene units and a smaller amount of BSD in the CP backbone enabled the CPs to emit different fluorescence colors according to their condition (solution or solid), which was caused by the difference in intermolecular electron transfer between CP backbones. Inspired by this, we fabricated polymer dots (Pdots) with various sizes using the CPs to control the number of CP chains within a spherical Pdot. This implied that smaller Pdots, where the chance of intermolecular electron transfer would be at a minimum, would accommodate fewer polymer chains than larger ones. The minimum chance for intermolecular electron transfer resulted in a short-wavelength emission, which was the identical emission color encountered in liquid CP solution. A more frequent intermolecular electron transfer was expected in larger Pdots, exhibiting long-wavelength emission, which was the same as observed in solid CPs. White-light-emitting Pdots that showed Commission Internationale de 1'Eclairage (CIE) coordinates of (0.34, 0.31) were fabricated simply by controlling the Pdot size.