Effects of emulsion-based resonant infrared matrix assisted pulsed laser evaporation (RIR-MAPLE) on the molecular weight of polymers


The molecular weight of a polymer determines key optoelectronic device characteristics, such as internal morphology and charge transport. Therefore, it is important to ensure that polymer deposition techniques do not significantly alter the native polymer molecular weight. This work addresses polymers deposited by resonant infrared matrix-assisted pulsed laser evaporation (RIR-MAPLE). By using a novel emulsion-based target technique, the deposition of smooth, contiguous films with no evidence of chemical degradation have been enabled. However, structural degradation via a reduction in molecular weight remains an open question. The common polymer standard, PMMA, and the optoelectronic polymers, P3HT and MEH-PPV, have been characterized before and after emulsion-based RIR-MAPLE deposition via gel permeation chromatography to determine if RIR-MAPLE affects the deposited polymer molecular weight. Proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy measurements have also been conducted to verify the absence of chemical degradation. These measurements verify that there is no chemical degradation of the polymers, and that PMMA and P3HT show no structural degradation, but MEH-PPV exhibits a halving of the weight-averaged molecular weight after RIR-MAPLE deposition. Compared with competing laser deposition techniques, RIR-MAPLE is shown to have the least effect on the molecular weight of the resulting thin films. © 2012 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.