Manipulation and statistical analysis of the fluid flow of polymer semiconductor solutions during meniscus-guided coating

Leo Shaw, Ying Diao, Geoffrey C. Martin-Noble, Hongping Yan, Pascal Hayoz, Thomas Weitz, Daniel Kaelblein, Michael F. Toney, Zhenan Bao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Abstract: Recent work in structure–processing relationships of polymer semiconductors have demonstrated the versatility and control of thin-film microstructure offered by meniscusguided coating (MGC) techniques. Here, we analyze the qualitative and quantitative aspects of solution shearing, a model MGC method, using coating blades augmented with arrays ofpillars. The pillars induce local regions of high strain rates—both shear and extensional—not otherwise possible with unmodified blades, and we use fluid mechanical simulations to modeland study a variety of pillar spacings and densities. We then perform a statistical analysis of 130 simulation variables to find correlations with three dependent variables of interest: thin-filmdegree of crystallinity and transistor field-effect mobilities for charge-transport parallel (Μpara) and perpendicular (Μperp) to the coating direction. Our study suggests that simple fluid mechanicalmodels can reproduce substantive correlations between the induced fluid flow and important performance metrics, providing a methodology for optimizing blade design. Impact Statement: Polymer semiconductors have opened up a new frontier of electronics that can be flexible, stretchable, implantable, or biodegradable. While the chemical and electronic properties of these materials are important for their function as the active material in organic electronic devices, the manner by which these organic semiconductors are deposited onto a substrate can significantly influence its charge-transport properties. While a variety of techniques have been investigated to enhance charge-transport behavior, there are few reports approaching the issue in terms of the fluid dynamical considerations relevant during deposition from the solution phase. In this article, we analyze the fluid flow that occurs during thin-film deposition by solution shearing, a representative meniscusguided coating method amenable to high-throughput processing. We investigate a variety of variables related to fluid flow that can be estimated from fluid mechanical simulations of solution shearing with a coating blade patterned with a regular array of pillars used to induce higher fluid strain rates. We find correlations suggestive of underlying relationships between strain rates associated with certain directions and polymer charge-transport properties in the final deposited film. This article establishes a statistical approach using simulation data that can guide patterned blade design to enhance polymer deposition and realize high-performance devices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)380-393
Number of pages14
JournalMRS Bulletin
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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