Crystal step edges can trap electrons on the surfaces of n-type organic semiconductors

Tao He, Yanfei Wu, Gabriele D'Avino, Elliot Schmidt, Matthias Stolte, Jérôme Cornil, David Beljonne, P. Paul Ruden, Frank Würthner, C. Daniel Frisbie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Scopus citations


Understanding relationships between microstructure and electrical transport is an important goal for the materials science of organic semiconductors. Combining high-resolution surface potential mapping by scanning Kelvin probe microscopy (SKPM) with systematic field effect transport measurements, we show that step edges can trap electrons on the surfaces of single crystal organic semiconductors. n-type organic semiconductor crystals exhibiting positive step edge surface potentials display threshold voltages that increase and carrier mobilities that decrease with increasing step density, characteristic of trapping, whereas crystals that do not have positive step edge surface potentials do not have strongly step density dependent transport. A device model and microelectrostatics calculations suggest that trapping can be intrinsic to step edges for crystals of molecules with polar substituents. The results provide a unique example of a specific microstructure-charge trapping relationship and highlight the utility of surface potential imaging in combination with transport measurements as a productive strategy for uncovering microscopic structure-property relationships in organic semiconductors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2141
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

How much support was provided by MRSEC?

  • Primary

Reporting period for MRSEC

  • Period 5

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

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    He, T., Wu, Y., D'Avino, G., Schmidt, E., Stolte, M., Cornil, J., Beljonne, D., Ruden, P. P., Würthner, F., & Frisbie, C. D. (2018). Crystal step edges can trap electrons on the surfaces of n-type organic semiconductors. Nature communications, 9(1), [2141].