One-dimensional self-assembly of planar π-conjugated molecules: Adaptable building blocks for organic nanodevices

Ling Zang, Yanke Che, Jeffrey S. Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


(Figure Presented) In general, fabrication of well-defined organic nanowires or nanobelts with controllable size and morphology is not as advanced as for their inorganic counterparts. Whereas inorganic nanowires are widely exploited in optoelectronic nanodevices, there remains considerable untapped potential in the one-dimensional (1D) organic materials. This Account describes our recent progress and discoveries in the field of 1D self-assembly of planar π-conjugated molecules and their application in various nanodevices including the optical and electrical sensors. The Account is aimed at providing new insights into how to combine elements of molecular design and engineering with materials fabrication to achieve properties and functions that are desirable for nanoscale optoelectronic applications. The goal of our research program is to advance the knowledge and develop a deeper understanding in the frontier area of 1D organic nanomaterials, for which several basic questions will be addressed: (1) How can one control and optimize the molecular arrangement by modifying the molecular structure? (2) What processing factors affect self-assembly and the final morphology of the fabricated nanomaterials; how can these factors be controlled to achieve the desired 1D nanomaterials, for example, nanowires or nanobelts? (3) How do the optoelectronic properties (e.g., emission, exciton migration, and charge transport) of the assembled materials depend on the molecular arrangement and the intermolecular interactions? (4) How can the inherent optoelectronic properties of the nanomaterials be correlated with applications in sensing, switching, and other types of optoelectronic devices? The results presented demonstrate the feasibility of controlling the morphology and molecular organization of 1D organic nanomaterials. Two types of molecules have been employed to explore the 1D self-assembly and the application in optoelectronic sensing: one is perylene tetracarboxylic diimide (PTCDI, n-type) and the other is arylene ethynylene macrocycle (AEM, p-type). The materials described in this project are uniquely multifunctional, combining the properties of nanoporosity, efficient exciton migration and charge transport, and strong interfacial interaction with the guest (target) molecules. We see this combination as enabling a range of important technological applications that demand tightly coupled interaction between matter, photons, and charge. Such applications may include optical sensing, electrical sensing, and polarized emission. Particularly, the well-defined nanowires fabricated in this study represent unique systems for investigating the dimensional confinement of the optoelectronic properties of organic semiconductors, such as linearly polarized emission, dimensionally confined exciton migration, and optimal π-electronic coupling (favorable for charge transport). Combination of these properties will make the 1D self-assembly ideal for many orientation-sensitive applications, such as polarized light-emitting diodes and flat panel displays.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1596-1608
Number of pages13
JournalAccounts of chemical research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 16 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)


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