Tunable self-organization in n-type liquid crystalline dibenzocoronene tetracarboxdiimides for high photoconductivity

A comprehensive study on the self-organised mesomorphism and charge-transport properties of three n-type liquid crystalline (LC) dibenzocoronene tetracarboxdiimide derivatives (Dibenzo-CDI 1, 2, 3) bearing branched alkyl chains with varied side-chain length and branching point (α or β site) has been carried out. All three Dibenzo-CDI compounds possessed high solubility in common organic solvents and low-lying lowest unoccupied molecular orbital energy levels below −4.0 eV indicating their air-stable electron-transport capacity under ambient conditions. It is discovered that the side-chain length has a moderate influence on the molecular arrangement and thus leads to only limited variation of electron-transport properties. In contrast, the branching position plays a critical role on tuning molecular packing and orientation in the bulk mesophases, thereby resulting in dramatic differences in electron mobilities. Remarkably, Dibenzo-CDI 3 demonstrates good photoconductivity by time-of-flight method with high electron mobility up to 0.075 cm2/Vs, close to the highest value reported in certain n-type LC derivatives. All these results reveal that LC Dibenzo-CDI derivatives are potential candidates for high-performance solution-processable electronics, such as air-stable n-type organic field-effect transistors (OFETs) and solar cells.