Performance Improvements in Conjugated Polymer Devices by Removal of Water-Induced Traps

Mark Nikolka, Guillaume Schweicher, John Armitage, Iyad Nasrallah, Cameron Jellett, Zhijie Guo, Michael Hurhangee, Aditya Sadhanala, Iain McCulloch, Christian B. Nielsen, Henning Sirringhaus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


The exploration of a wide range of molecular structures has led to the development of high-performance conjugated polymer semiconductors for flexible electronic applications including displays, sensors, and logic circuits. Nevertheless, many conjugated polymer field-effect transistors (OFETs) exhibit nonideal device characteristics and device instabilities rendering them unfit for industrial applications. These often do not originate in the material's intrinsic molecular structure, but rather in external trap states caused by chemical impurities or environmental species such as water. Here, a highly efficient mechanism is demonstrated for the removal of water-induced traps that are omnipresent in conjugated polymer devices even when processed in inert environments; the underlying mechanism is shown, by which small-molecular additives with water-binding nitrile groups or alternatively water–solvent azeotropes are capable of removing water-induced traps leading to a significant improvement in OFET performance. It is also shown how certain polymer structures containing strong hydrogen accepting groups will suffer from poor performances due to their high susceptibility to interact with water molecules; this allows the design guidelines for a next generation of stable, high-performing conjugated polymers to be set forth.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1801874
JournalAdvanced Materials
Issue number36
StatePublished - Jul 18 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2021-04-16
Acknowledgements: The authors gratefully acknowledge financial support the Physical Sciences Research Council though a Programme Grant (EP/M005141/1). M.N. acknowledges financial support from the European Commission through a Marie-Curie Individual Fellowship. G.S. acknowledges postdoctoral fellowship support from the Wiener-Anspach Foundation and The Leverhulme Trust (Early Career Fellowship supported by the Isaac Newton Trust).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • General Materials Science
  • Mechanical Engineering


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