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In-situ observations of the growth mode of vacuum deposited α-sexithiophene

DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcc.0c00447 DOI Help

Authors: Thomas L. Derrien (Diamond Light Source) , Andreas E. Lauritzen (University of Oxford) , Pascal Kaienburg (University of Oxford) , Josue F. M. Hardigree (University of Oxford) , Christopher Nicklin (Diamond Light Source) , Moritz K. Riede (University of Oxford)
Co-authored by industrial partner: No

Type: Journal Paper
Journal: The Journal Of Physical Chemistry C

State: Published (Approved)
Published: May 2020
Diamond Proposal Number(s): 20426 , 24871

Open Access Open Access

Abstract: The real-time morphological evolution of vacuum deposited α-sexithiophene (α-6T) on a weakly interacting (glass) substrate at ambient temperature is reported. In-situ grazing incidence small angle X-ray scattering (GISAXS) enabled the observation of nanoscale aggregates while in-situ grazing incidence wide angle scattering (GIWAXS) allowed the study of the molecular-scale morphology. The in-situ GISAXS measurements revealed that the α-6T growth proceeds via a Stranski-Krastanov mode, whereby 2-4 complete monolayers are deposited followed by subsequent layers formed via island growth. In-situ GIWAXS also showed the evolution of the polymorph composition during the thin film growth. Initially the disordered β-phase and the low-temperature (LT) phase are deposited in nearly equal proportion until a thickness of 8 nm whereby the LT-phase begins to dominate until a final α-6T thickness of 50 nm where the scattering intensity of the LT-phase is more than double that of the β-phase. The change in polymorph composition coincided with an increase in the LT-phase d-spacing, indicating a lattice strain relief as the thin film moves from surface to bulk mediated growth. The GISAXS findings were confirmed through direct imaging using ex-situ atomic force microscopy (AFM) at various thicknesses revealing the existence of both initial monolayers and intermediate and final island morphologies. The findings reveal the real-time morphological evolution of α-6T across both the molecular scale and the nanoscale and highlight the role of strain in polymorph growth. Due to the importance of thin film microstructure in device performance, it is expected that these results will aid in the development of the structure-property relationships necessary to realise the full potential of organic electronics.

Subject Areas: Chemistry

Instruments: I07-Surface & interface diffraction