- Award ID(s):
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- Chemical science
- Page Range or eLocation-ID:
- 3592 - 3601
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- National Science Foundation
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Understanding and manipulating crystallization processes has been an important challenge for solution-processed organic thin films, both for fundamental studies and for fabricating thin films with near-intrinsic charge transport properties. We report an in situ X-ray scattering study of the crystallization of 2-decyl-7-phenyl-benzothieno[3,2- b ]benzothiophene (Ph-BTBT-C 10 ) during its deposition from solution. At temperatures modestly below the smectic-E/crystalline phase boundary, the crystallization goes through a transient liquid crystal state before reaching the final stable crystalline phase. Significant dynamics occur in the first few seconds of the transition, which are observed through fluctuations in the X-ray scattering intensity, and are correlated with the time interval that the transient thin film coexists with the evaporating solvent. The transition to the stable crystalline phase takes minutes or even hours under these conditions, which may be a result of the asymmetry of the molecule. Transient phases are of potential interest for applications, since they can act as a route to self-assembly of organic thin films. However, our observations show that the long-lived monolayer-stacked intermediate state does not act as a template for the bilayer-stacked crystalline phase. Rather, the grain structure is replaced through nucleation, where the nucleation free-energy barrier is related to a potentialmore »
Surface equilibration mechanism controls the molecular packing of glassy molecular semiconductors at organic interfaces
Glasses prepared by physical vapor deposition (PVD) are anisotropic, and the average molecular orientation can be varied significantly by controlling the deposition conditions. While previous work has characterized the average structure of thick PVD glasses, most experiments are not sensitive to the structure near an underlying substrate or interface. Given the profound influence of the substrate on the growth of crystalline or liquid crystalline materials, an underlying substrate might be expected to substantially alter the structure of a PVD glass, and this near-interface structure is important for the function of organic electronic devices prepared by PVD, such as organic light-emitting diodes. To study molecular packing near buried organic–organic interfaces, we prepare superlattice structures (stacks of 5- or 10-nm layers) of organic semiconductors, Alq3 (Tris-(8-hydroxyquinoline)aluminum) and DSA-Ph (1,4-di-[4-(N,
N-diphenyl)amino]styrylbenzene), using PVD. Superlattice structures significantly increase the fraction of the films near buried interfaces, thereby allowing for quantitative characterization of interfacial packing. Remarkably, both X-ray scattering and spectroscopic ellipsometry indicate that the substrate exerts a negligible influence on PVD glass structure. Thus, the surface equilibration mechanism previously advanced for thick films can successfully describe PVD glass structure even within the first monolayer of deposition on an organic substrate.
Phosphate‐functionalized Zirconium Metal–Organic Frameworks for Enhancing Lithium–Sulfur Battery Cycling
Lithium–sulfur batteries are promising candidates for next‐generation energy storage devices due to their outstanding theoretical energy density. However, they suffer from low sulfur utilization and poor cyclability, greatly limiting their practical implementation. Herein, we adopted a phosphate‐functionalized zirconium metal–organic framework (Zr‐MOF) as a sulfur host. With their porous structure, remarkable electrochemical stability, and synthetic versatility, Zr‐MOFs present great potential in preventing soluble polysulfides from leaching. Phosphate groups were introduced to the framework post‐synthetically since they have shown a strong affinity towards lithium polysulfides and an ability to facilitate Li ion transport. The successful incorporation of phosphate in MOF‐808 was demonstrated by a series of techniques including infrared spectroscopy, solid‐state nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and X‐ray pair distribution function analysis. When employed in batteries, phosphate‐functionalized Zr‐MOF (MOF‐808‐PO4) exhibits significantly enhanced sulfur utilization and ion diffusion compared to the parent framework, leading to higher capacity and rate capability. The improved capacity retention and inhibited self‐discharge rate also demonstrate effective polysulfide encapsulation utilizing MOF‐808‐PO4. Furthermore, we explored their potential towards high‐density batteries by examining the cycling performance at various sulfur loadings. Our approach to correlate structure with function using hybrid inorganic–organic materials offers new chemical design strategies for advancing battery materials.
We show that glasses with aligned smectic liquid crystal-like order can be produced by physical vapor deposition of a molecule without any equilibrium liquid crystal phases. Smectic-like order in vapor-deposited films was characterized by wide-angle X-ray scattering. A surface equilibration mechanism predicts the highly smectic-like vapor-deposited structure to be a result of significant vertical anchoring at the surface of the equilibrium liquid, and near-edge X-ray absorption fine structure (NEXAFS) spectroscopy orientation analysis confirms this prediction. Understanding of the mechanism enables informed engineering of different levels of smectic order in vapor-deposited glasses to suit various applications. The preparation of a glass with orientational and translational order from a nonliquid crystal opens up an exciting paradigm for accessing extreme anisotropy in glassy solids.
X-ray scattering has been used to characterize the columnar packing and the π stacking in a glass-forming discotic liquid crystal. In the equilibrium liquid state, the intensities of the scattering peaks for π stacking and columnar packing are proportional to each other, indicating concurrent development of the two orders. Upon cooling into the glassy state, the π–π distance shows a kinetic arrest with a change in the thermal expansion coefficient (TEC) from 321 to 109 ppm/K, while the intercolumnar spacing exhibits a constant TEC of 113 ppm/K. By changing the cooling rate, it is possible to prepare glasses with a wide range of columnar and π stacking orders, including zero order. For each glass, the columnar order and the π stacking order correspond to a much hotter liquid than its enthalpy and π–π distance, with the difference between the two internal (fictive) temperatures exceeding 100 K. By comparison with the relaxation map obtained by dielectric spectroscopy, we find that the δ mode (disk tumbling within a column) controls the columnar order and the π stacking order trapped in the glass, while the α mode (disk spinning about its axis) controls the enthalpy and the π–π spacing. Our finding is relevant formore »