Single molecule spectroscopy of conjugated polymer chains in an electric field-aligned liquid crystal

Wei Shun Chang, Stephan Link, Arun Yethiraj, Paul F. Barbara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using single molecule polarization spectroscopy, we investigated the alignment of a polymer solute with respect to the liquid crystal (LC) director in an LC device while applying an external electric field. The polymer solute is poly[2-methoxy-5-(2′-ethyl-hexyloxy)-1,4-phenylene vinylene] (or MEH-PPV), and the LC solvent is 5CB. The electric field induces a change in the LC director orientation from a planar alignment (no electric field) to a perpendicular (homeotropic) alignment with an applied field of 5.5 × 103 V/cm. We find that the polymer chains align with the LC director in both planar and homeotropic alignment when measured in the bulk of the LC solution away from the device interface. Single molecule polarization distributions measured as a function of distance from the LC device interface reveal a continuous change of the MEHPPV alignment from planar to homeotropic. The observed polarization distributions are modeled using a conventional elastic model that predicts the depth profile of the LC director orientation for the applied electric field. The excellent agreement between experiment and simulations shows that the alignment of MEH-PPV follows the LC director throughout the LC sample. Furthermore, our results suggest that conjugated polymers such as MEH-PPV can be used as sensitive local probes to explore complex (and unknown) structures in anisotropic media.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)448-453
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 17 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry


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