Imaging 0.36 nm Lattice Planes in Conjugated Polymers by Minimizing Beam Damage

Brooke Kuei, Carol Bator, Enrique D. Gomez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Transmission electron microscopy can resolve the atomic structure of materials with 0.5 Å resolution. High-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM) of soft materials, however, is limited by beam damage. We characterized damage in a series of conjugated polymers comprising poly(3-hexylthiophene-2,5-diyl) (P3HT), poly(3-dodecylthiophene-2,5-diyl) (P3DDT), and poly[(5,6-difluoro-2,1,3-benzothiadiazol-4,7-diyl)-alt-(3,3″'-di(2-octyldodecyl)-2,2′5′,2″5″,2″'-quaterthiophene-5,5″'-diyl)] (PffBT4T-2OD) by monitoring the decay of electron diffraction peaks as a function of dose rate, beam blanking, and temperature. We also measured the decay of low-loss electron energy-loss spectra as a function of dose rate. These damage experiments suggest that the dominant mechanism of beam damage in conjugated polymers is the diffusion of a reacting species generated from ionization, likely of side chains. Elucidating a mechanistic description of radiation effects leads to imaging protocols that can minimize damage, which enables the direct imaging of 3.6 Å π-πstacking in a solution-processed conjugated polymer (PffBT4T-2OD), improving state-of-the-art resolution of this class of materials by an order of magnitude.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8296-8302
Number of pages7
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 13 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry


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