Journal of the American Chemical Society, Vol.143, No.3, 1539-1552, 2021
Cyano-Functionalized Bithiophene Imide-Based n-Type Polymer Semiconductors: Synthesis, Structure-Property Correlations, and Thermoelectric Performance
n-Type polymers with deep-positioned lowest unoccupied molecular orbital (LUMO) energy levels are essential for enabling n-type organic thin-film transistors (OTFTs) with high stability and n-type organic thermoelectrics (OTEs) with high doping efficiency and promising thermoelectric performance. Bithiophene imide (BTI) and its derivatives have been demonstrated as promising acceptor units for constructing high-performance n-type polymers. However, the electron-rich thiophene moiety in BTI leads to elevated LUMOs for the resultant polymers and hence limits their n- type performance and intrinsic stability. Herein, we addressed this issue by introducing strong electron-withdrawing cyano functionality on BTI and its derivatives. We have successfully overcome the synthetic challenges and developed a series of novel acceptor building blocks, CNI, CNTI, and CNDTI, which show substantially higher electron deficiencies than does BTI. On the basis of these novel building blocks, acceptor-acceptor type homopolymers and copolymers were successfully synthesized and featured greatly suppressed LUMOs (-3.64 to -4.11 eV) versus that (-3.48 eV) of the control polymer PBTI. Their deep-positioned LUMOs resulted in improved stability in OTFTs and more efficient n-doping in OTEs for the corresponding polymers with a highest electrical conductivity of 23.3 S m(-1) and a power factor of similar to 10 mu W m(-1) K-2. The conductivity and power factor are among the highest values reported for solution-processed molecularly n-doped polymers. The new CNI, CNTI, and CNDTI offer a remarkable platform for constructing n- type polymers, and this study demonstrates that cyano-functionalization of BTI is a very effective strategy for developing polymers with deep-lying LUMOs for high-performance n- type organic electronic devices.