Measurement of Cohesion and Adhesion of Semiconducting Polymers by Scratch Testing: Effect of Side-Chain Length and Degree of Polymerization

Daniel Rodriquez, James G. Kohl, Pierre Morel, Kyle Burrows, Grégory Favaro, Samuel E. Root, Julian Ramírez, Mohammad A. Alkhadra, Cody W. Carpenter, Zhuping Fei, Pierre Boufflet, Martin Heeney, Darren J. Lipomi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Most advantages of organic electronic materials are enabled by mechanical deformability, as flexible (and stretchable) devices made from these materials must be able to withstand roll-to-roll printing and survive mechanical insults from the external environment. Cohesion and adhesion are two properties that dictate the mechanical reliability of a flexible organic electronic device. In this paper, progressive-load scratch tests are used for the first time to correlate the cohesive and adhesive behavior of poly(3-alkylthiophenes) (P3ATs) with respect to two molecular parameters: length of the alkyl side chain and molecular weight. In contrast to metrological techniques based on buckling or pull testing of pseudofreestanding films, scratch tests reveal information about both the cohesive and adhesive properties of thin polymeric films from a single procedure. Our data show a decrease in cohesion and adhesion, that is, a decrease in overall mechanical robustness, with increasing length of the side chain. This behavior is likely due to increases in free volume and concomitant decreases in the glass transition temperature. In contrast, we observe increases in both the cohesion and adhesion with increasing molecular weight. This behavior is attributed to an increased density of entanglements with high molecular weight, which manifests as increased extensibility. These observations are consistent with the results of molecular dynamics simulations. Interestingly, the normal (applied) forces associated with cohesive and adhesive failure are directly proportional to the average degree of polymerization, as opposed to simply the molecular weight, as the length of the alkyl side chain increases the molecular weight without increasing the degree of polymerization.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1003-1009
Number of pages7
JournalACS Macro Letters
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 21 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics


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