Excess Polymer in Single-Walled Carbon Nanotube Thin-Film Transistors: Its Removal Prior to Fabrication Is Unnecessary Academic Article uri icon

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  • Ultrapure semiconducting single-walled carbon nanotube (sc-SWNT) dispersions produced through conjugated polymer sorting are ideal candidates for the fabrication of solution-processed organic electronic devices on a commercial scale. Protocols for sorting and dispersing ultrapure sc-SWNTs with conjugated polymers for thin-film transistor (TFT) applications have been well refined. Conventional wisdom dictates that removal of excess unbound polymer through filtration or centrifugation is necessary to produce high-performance TFTs. However, this is time-consuming, wasteful, and resource-intensive. In this report, we challenge this paradigm and demonstrate that excess unbound polymer during semiconductor film fabrication is not necessarily detrimental to device performance. Over 1200 TFT devices were fabricated from 30 unique polymer-sorted SWNT dispersions, prepared using two different alternating copolymers. Detailed Raman spectroscopy, x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), and atomic force microscopy (AFM) studies of the random-network semiconductor films demonstrated that a simple solvent rinse during TFT fabrication was sufficient to remove unbound polymer from the sc-SWNT films, thus eliminating laborious polymer removal before TFT fabrication. Furthermore, below a threshold polymer concentration, the presence of excess polymer during fabrication did not significantly impede TFT performance. Preeminent performance was achieved for devices prepared from native polymer-sorted SWNT dispersions containing the "original" amount of excess unbound polymer (immediately following enrichment). Lastly, we developed an open-source Machine Learning algorithm to quantitatively analyze AFM images of SWNT films for surface coverage, number of tubes, and tube alignment.


  • Mirka, Brendan
  • Rice, Nicole A
  • Williams, Phillip
  • Tousignant, Mathieu N
  • Boileau, Nicholas T
  • Bodnaryk, William J
  • Fong, Darryl
  • Adronov, Alex
  • Lessard, Benoît H

publication date

  • May 25, 2021