Electrochromism and over-oxidation in conjugated polymers: Improved color switching and a novel patterning approach

University dissertation from Institutionen för teknik och naturvetenskap

Abstract: During the last 30 years a new research and technology field of organic electronic materials has grown thanks to a groundbreaking discovery made during the late 70’s. This new field is today a worldwide research effort focusing on exploring this new class of materials that also enable many new areas of electronics applications. In the organic electronics research field conducting organic molecules and polymers are synthesized and used in devices. The reason behind the success of conducting polymers is the flexibility to develop materials with new functionalities via clever chemical design and the possibility to use low-cost production techniques to manufacture devices.This thesis reviews and describes different aspects of the organic electronics, here focusing on electrochromic displays; device improvements, the study of degradation and also patterning technology for rational manufacturing processing. The color contrast in electrochromic displays based on conjugated polymers was increased with approximately a factor of two by adding an extra electrochromic polymer. It was found that electrochemical over-oxidation (ECO) limits the flexibility in choosing desired electrochromic materials. ECO is one of the main degradation mechanisms in electrochromic displays. ECO is an efficient and fast process to permanently reduce the electronic conductivity in polythiophenes. From this, a novel patterning process was developed, in which the films of polythiophenes can be patterned through local and controlled deactivation of the conductivity. The ECO has been combined with different patterning tools to enable the use of existing printing tools for manufacturing. In combination with screen-printing, low-cost and high volume roll-to-roll patterning was demonstrated, while together with photolithography, patterning down to 2 µm can be achieved. Systematic studies have shown that conductivity contrasts beyond 107 can be achieved, which is enough for various simple electronic systems. To generate better understanding of the ECO phenomena the effect of pH on the over-oxidation characteristics was studied. The results suggest that a part of the mechanism for over-oxidation depends on the OH– concentration of the electrolyte used.