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Polymer/Nanoparticle Nanocomposite Thin Films for Optoelectronics: Experiment and Theory Open Access


Other title
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
McClure, Sean
Supervisor and department
Buriak, Jillian (Chemistry)
Examining committee member and department
Jonathan G. C. Veinot (Chemistry)
Ted Sargent, (Electrical and Computer Engineering)
Anastasia Elias (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
Steven H. Bergens (Chemistry)
Richard McCreery (Chemistry)
Department of Chemistry

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Third-generation optoelectronics, which utilize nanoscale materials, have received a considerable amount of attention in the chemical sciences and are poised to make a large impact in both fundamental research and real-world application. In order to make a contribution to the field, this thesis describes a route towards highly stable, water-soluble semiconductor nanorods and their incorporation into nanoparticle/polymer composite thin films. To characterize the photoelectrical properties of these multilayers, and to provide a proof-of-concept for a functional optoelectronic device, the films were integrated into an excitonic solar cell. To gain further insight into the physical properties of the thin films, computational modeling of the carrier transport in thiophenes was conducted, and the limits to device performance were described in the context of their charge transport characteristics. Electrostatic layer-by-layer (ELBL) assembly was used for the synthesis of multilayer nanorod/polymer composite films. CdSe nanorods (NRs) were synthesized and made cationic and water-soluble using ligand exchange chemistry. The NRs were partnered with anionic polymers including poly(sodium 4-styrenesulfonate) (PSS) and the two polythiophene-based photoactive polymers, sodium poly[2-(3-thienyl)-ethoxy-4-butylsulfonate (PTEBS) and poly[3-(potassium-6-hexanoate)thiophene-2,5-diyl] (P3KHT). Multilayer growth, with nanoscale control, is shown through UV-vis spectroscopy, cross-sectional scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and surface analytical techniques including atomic force microscopy (AFM). The formation of an intimate nanorod/conducting polymer bulk heterojunction is confirmed through cross-sectional SEM, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and scanning Auger analysis. A series of photovoltaic devices was fabricated on ITO electrodes using CdSe NRs in combination with PTEBS or P3KHT. A thorough device analysis showed that performance was limited by carrier transport throughout the films. Computational modeling of the thiophene component in polymer-based third-generation devices was done using density functional theory (DFT) with core potentials added to account for long range dispersion interactions inherent to optoelectronic thin films. Binding energies and orbital splittings in dimers composed of monomers up to six rings were investigated. The combination of experimental and computational studies elucidates some of the underlying mechanisms behind the production of third-generation solar energy.
License granted by Sean McClure ( on 2011-01-11T18:00:57Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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