Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Polymers and Coatings


Chemistry & Biochemistry




Conjugated polymers are semiconducting materials that are currently being researched for numerous applications from chemical and biological sensors to electronic devices, including photovoltaics and transistors. Much of the novel research on conjugated polymers is performed in academic settings, where scientists are working to prepare conjugated polymers for commercially viable applications. By offering numerous advantages, inherent in macromolecular materials, conjugated polymers may hold the key to cheap and environmentally friendly manufacturing of future electronic devices. Mechanical flexibility, and solvent-based coating processes are two commonly cited advantages. Transitions in the backbone conformation of polythiophenes (PT) in organic solvents have been widely observed to influence thin-film morphology. However, conformational transitions of water-soluble PT derivatives, with respect to their intramolecular versus intermolecular origin, remain largely obscure. Here, conformational transitions of a water- soluble polythiophene in aqueous ionic surfactants are investigated by means of Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), polarizing optical microscopy (POM), ultraviolet-visible (UV-Vis) absorption and fluorescence spectroscopy, and various X-ray scattering techniques. As-prepared complexes exist as stable hydrogels. Upon dilution, a significant time-dependent chromism occurs spontaneously. A coil-to-rod conformational transition is identified in this mechanism and verified using small-angle x-ray scattering (SAXS). Study into the corresponding kinetics demonstrates an inverse first-order rate law. It is found that the conformational transition is thermally reversible and concentration-independent. The critical transition temperature is largely dependent on the surfactant formulation. A theoretical model is presented to explain this new phenomenon and the mechanisms behind its influence on the optoelectronic and solid-state morphological properties. A relationship between the dilute-solution processing with surfactants and the final properties of the system is substantiated.