Grain-boundary-limited charge transport in solution-processed 6,13 bis(tri-isopropylsilylethynyl) pentacene thin film transistors

Jihua Chen, Chee Keong Tee, Max Shtein, John Anthony, David C. Martin

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111 Scopus citations


Grain boundaries play an important role in determining the electrical, mechanical, and optical properties of polycrystalline thin films. A side-disubstituted counterpart of pentacene, 6,13 bis(tri-isopropylsilylethynyl) (TIPS) pentacene, has lateral π -π packing and reasonably high solubility in a number of organic solvents. In this paper, the effects of grain boundaries on the effective hole mobility, on/off ratio, threshold voltage, and hysteresis of transistor transfer characteristics were investigated in solution-processed TIPS pentacene thin film transistors with both experiments and simulations. The effects of solvent type, concentration, substrate temperature, and evaporation rate were investigated by optical, electron, and atomic force microscopies. An apparatus for controlled solution casting was designed, fabricated, and used to make TIPS pentacene thin film transistors with more precisely controlled variations in microstructure and defect densities. First, hysteresis in the electrical characteristics was found to correlate directly with grain width WG (the crystal dimension along [1 2- 0]) in active layers. In addition, since TIPS pentacene crystals with larger grain width (WG >6 μm) generally took a long needle shape and the ones with smaller domain sizes (WG <4 μm) had a more equiaxed geometry, a sharp enhancement in the effective mobility was observed in the larger grains. In devices with active layers cast from toluene solution, the measured field-effect hole mobility for grain width WG smaller than 4 μm was generally 0.01 cm2 /V s, whereas mobility for films with grain width WG >6 μm was typically 0.1∼1 cm2 /V s. A model of boundary-limited transport was developed and used to explain experimental data. Based on the proposed model and an energy barrier (EB) on the order of 100 meV for electrical transport across grain boundary, the effective grain-boundary mobility μ GB o was estimated to be approximately 5× 10-7 cm2 /V s.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114513
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the Office of Naval Research and the National Science Foundation for financial support (Grant Nos. DMR-0084304 and DMR-6518079). TEM studies were conducted at the Electron Microbeam Analysis Laboratory (EMAL) at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, with assistance from Dr. Carl Henderson, Dr. John Mansfield, and Dr. Kai Sun. Electrical characterization of thin film transistors were conducted at the Solid State Electronics Laboratories (SSEL) at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. The Philips CM12 scanning transmission TEM used in this work was obtained from NSF under Grant No. EAR-87-08276, and the JEOL3011 was obtained from the support of NSF Grant No. DMR-0315633.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy (all)


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