Continuous synthesis of device-grade semiconducting polymers in droplet-based microreactors

James H. Bannock, Siva H. Krishnadasan, Adrian M. Nightingale, Chin Pang Yau, Kevin Khaw, Daniel Burkitt, Jonathan J.M. Halls, Martin Heeney, John C. De Mello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


A method is reported for the controlled synthesis of device-grade semiconducting polymers, utilizing a droplet-based microfluidic reactor. Using poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) as a test material, the reactor is shown to provide a controlled and stable environment for polymer synthesis, enabling control of molecular weight via tuning of flow conditions, reagent composition or temperature. Molecular weights of up to 92 000 Da are readily attainable, without leakage or reactor fouling. The method avoids the usual deterioration in materials quality that occurs when conventional batch syntheses are scaled from the sub-gram level to higher quantities, with a prototype five-channel reactor producing material of consistent molecular weight distribution and high regioregularity (>98%) at a rate of ≈60 g/day. The droplet-synthesized P3HT compares favorably with commercial material in terms of absorption spectrum, polydispersity, regioregularity, and crystallinity, yielding power conversion efficiencies of up to 4% in bulk heterojunction solar cells with [6,6]-phenyl-C61-butyric acid methyl ester. Copyright © 2013 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2123-2129
Number of pages7
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
Issue number17
StatePublished - May 6 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Generated from Scopus record by KAUST IRTS on 2023-02-14

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • Electrochemistry
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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