Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Polymers and Coatings


Chemistry & Biochemistry


Shanju Zhang


Conjugated semiconducting polymers have garnered substantial interest in recent years due to the potential for use in various applications, particularly in the field of electronic devices such as photovoltaic cells and light emitting diodes. Conjugated polymers offer numerous advantages in these applications, including low cost and high flexibility, but electronic devices based on these materials are currently limited by poor performance. Because of these limitations, increased focus has been placed on improving conjugated polymers for use in commercially viable products. Here, a novel core shell hybrid nanocomposite based on anisotropic zinc oxide nanowires and a side-chain functionalized polythiophene is reported. This nanocomposite exhibits confirmed covalent side-on linkage between the polymer and the nanowires, and the crystalline, thermal and photophysical properties of the nanocomposite are investigated, revealing elongated conjugation length in the polymer backbone, increased crystallinity and thermal stability and rapid charge transfer. Additionally, the conformational transitions of side-chain functionalized polythiophenes are investigated in dilute solution through the use of ultraviolet-visible absorption spectrophotometry. A coil-to-rod conformational transition is identified, and is found to be induceable through temperature and solvent changes. Study into the kinetics of the transition reveals a first-order rate law, and the effects of polymer structure on the conformational transition are substantiated.