Carbon nanotubes for organic electronics

Goh, Roland Ghim Siong (2008) Carbon nanotubes for organic electronics. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.

Roland Goh Thesis.pdf.


This thesis investigated the use of carbon nanotubes as active components in solution processible organic semiconductor devices. We investigated the use of functionalized carbon nanotubes in carbon nanotubes network transistors (CNNFET) and in photoactive composites with conjugated polymers. For CNNFETs, the objective was to obtain detailed understanding of the dependence of transistor characteristics on nanotubes bundle sizes, device geometry and processing. Single walled carbon nanotubes were functionalized by grafting octadecylamine chains onto the tubes, which rendered them dispersible in organic solvents for solution processing. To investigate the dependence of electronic properties of carbon nanotubes networks on bundle size, we developed a centrifugal fractionation protocol that enabled us to obtain nanotube bundles of different diameters. The electronic properties of networks of nanotube bundles deposited from solution were investigated within a CNNFET device configuration. By comparing devices with different degree of bundling we elucidated the dependence of key device parameters (field effect mobility and on/off ratio) on bundle sizes. We further found that, in contrast to traditional inorganic transistors, the electronic properties of the CNNFETs were dominated by the channel rather than contact resistance. Specifically, the apparent mobility of our devices increased with decreasing channel length, suggesting that the charge transport properties of CNNFETs are bulk rather than contacts dominated. This meant that charge traps in the channel of the device had a significant effect on transport properties. We found that charge traps in the channel region introduced by adsorbed oxygen and silanol groups on the SiO2 surface were responsible for the dominant p-type conductance in as-fabricated devices. Based on this understanding, we demonstrated the p-type to n-type conversion of the transistor characteristics of CNNFETs by depositing nanotubes on electron-trapfree dielectric surfaces. Finally, by combining annealing and surface treatment, we fabricated CNNFETs with high n-type mobility of 6cm2/V.s. For polymer composites, the objective was to obtain detailed understanding of the interactions between carbon nanotubes and the conjugated polymer; a prerequisite for using these composites in organic electronic devices. We fabricated well dispersed nanotube/polymer composites by using functionalized carbon nanotubes and studied the effect of nanotubes addition on the photophysical properties of the technologically important conjugated polymer poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT). Measurement of the photoluminescence efficiency of nanotubes/polymer composites showed that addition of 10wt% carbon nanotubes effectively quenched the polymer emission indicating close electronic interactions. This indicated that nanotubes/polymer composites have potential in organic photovoltaic or light-sensing devices. Further analysis of the steady-state photoluminescence spectra revealed that nanotube addition resulted in increased structural disorder in the polymer. The incorporation of structural disorder into the polymer with the addition of even a small amount of carbon nanotubes may be detrimental to charge transport. UV-vis adsorption studies revealed that one-dimensional templating of P3HT chains by nanotubes resulted in a red-shifted feature in the solutionstate optical adsorption spectra of P3HT. This suggested that presence of nanotube surface templates the polymer self-organisation to produce highly ordered coating of P3HT chains around the nanotube. In order to elucidate the nanoscale origin of this phenomenon, we performed detailed STM studies on individual nanotubes adsorbed with P3HT chains. Since carbon nanotubes can be considered as rolled up sheets of graphite, we also performed STM on P3HT chains assembly on graphite for comparison. For P3HT assembly on HOPG, we found that while 2D crystals were observed when P3HT was cast onto HOPG from dilute solution, a thicker and more disordered film resulted when cast from concentrated solutions and subsequent layers were more likely to align normal to an underlying monolayer of P3HT on the HOPG surface. STM studies of nanotube/polymer mixtures revealed that the P3HT chains are adsorbed on nanotubes surface in such a way that the thiophene and hexyl moieties of the polymer associated with the nanotube surface in identical manner to P3HT monolayer depositions on graphite. This resulted in the increased order as inferred from adsorption UV-Vis spectroscopy, where the polymer chains, which are otherwise prone to chain kinks and twists in solution, adopt a planar configuration when adsorbed onto the nanotube surface.

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ID Code: 20849
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Bell, John, Motta, Nunzio, & Waclawik, Eric
Keywords: organic electronics, carbon nanotubes, field effect transistors, n-type, ptype, ambipolar, charge trapping, dielectric surface modification, conjugated polymers, polymer composites, polymer ordering, photoluminescence, photoluminescence efficiency, optical adsorption, scanning tunneling microscopy, self-assembly
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Past > Schools > School of Engineering Systems
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 27 May 2009 02:41
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:53

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