Purdue University Graduate School

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posted on 2023-11-13, 19:45 authored by Zhifan KeZhifan Ke

Conducting polymers have garnered enormous attention due to their unique properties, including tunable chemical structure, high flexibility, solution processability, and biocompatibility. They hold promising applications in flexible electronics, renewable energies, sensing, and healthcare. Despite notable progress in conducting polymers over the past few decades, most of them still suffer from complicated synthesis routes, limited processability, low electrical conductivity, and poor ambient stability compared to their inorganic counterparts. Additionally, the susceptibility of conducting polymers to high temperatures makes them not applicable in real-life electronics. To address the challenges of developing high-performance and stable conducting polymers, we present two key approaches: dopant innovation for polymer-dopant interaction engineering and the discovery of new conjugated polymer hosts. From the perspective of dopant design, we first utilize cross-linkable chlorosilanes (C-Si) to design thermally and chemically stable conductive polymer composites. C-Si can form robust siloxane networks and simultaneously dope the host conjugated polymers. Besides, we have introduced a new class of dopants, namely aromatic ionic dopants (AIDs). The use of AIDs allows for the separation of doping and charge compensation, two processes involved in molecular doping, and therefore leads to highly efficient doping and thermally stable doped systems. We then provide insights into the design of novel conjugated polymer hosts. Remarkably, we have developed the first thermodynamically stable n-type conducting polymer, n-doped Poly (3,7-dihydrobenzo[1,2-b:4,5-b′]difuran-2,6-dione) (n-PBDF). n-PBDF is synthesized from a simple and scalable route, involving oxidative polymerization and reductive doping in one pot in the air. The n-PBDF ink is solution processable with excellent ink stability and the n-PBDF thin film is highly conductive, transparent, patternable, and robust. In addition, precise control over the doping levels of n-PBDF has been achieved through chemical doping and dedoping. By tuning the n-PBDF thin films between highly doped and dedoped states, the system shows controllable conductivity, optical properties, and energetics, thereby offering potential applications in a variety of organic electronics. Overall, this research advances the fundamental understanding of molecular doping and offers insights for the development of high-conductivity, stable conducting polymers with tunable properties for next-generation electronics.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Chemistry

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Jianguo Mei

Additional Committee Member 2

Bryan Boudouris

Additional Committee Member 3

Libai Huang

Additional Committee Member 4

Kejie Zhao