Key Role of End-Capping Groups in Optoelectronic Properties of Poly-p-phenylene Cation Radicals

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Journal of Physical Chemistry C

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Poly-p-phenylenes (PPs) are prototype systems for understanding the charge transport in π-conjugated polymers. In a combined computational and experimental study, we demonstrate that the smooth evolution of redox and optoelectronic properties of PP cation radicals toward the polymeric limit can be significantly altered by electron-donating iso-alkyl and iso-alkoxy end-capping groups. A multiparabolic model (MPM) developed and validated here rationalizes this unexpected effect by interplay of the two modes of hole stabilization: due to the framework of equivalent p-phenylene units and due to the electron-donating end-capping groups. A symmetric, bell-shaped hole in unsubstituted PPs becomes either slightly skewed and shifted toward an end of the molecule in iso-alkyl-capped PPs or highly deformed and concentrated on a terminal unit in PPs with strongly electron-donating iso-alkoxy capping groups. The MPM shows that the observed linear 1/n evolution of the PP cation radical properties toward the polymer limit originates from the hole stabilization due to the growing chain of p-phenylene units, while shifting of the hole toward electron-donating end-capping groups leads to early breakdown of these 1/n dependencies. These insights, along with the readily applicable and flexible multistate parabolic model, can guide studies of complex donor–spacer–acceptor systems and doped molecular wires to aid the design of the next generation materials for long-range charge transport and photovoltaic applications.


Journal of Physical Chemistry C, Vol. 118, No. 37 (September 18, 2014): 21400-21408. DOI.