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Ultra-high resolution imaging of thin films and single strands of polythiophene using atomic force microscopy

Korolkov, Vladimir V.; Summerfield, Alex; Murphy, Alanna; Amabilino, David B.; Watanabe, Kenji; Taniguchi, Takashi; Beton, Peter H.


Vladimir V. Korolkov

Alex Summerfield

Alanna Murphy

David B. Amabilino

Kenji Watanabe

Takashi Taniguchi


Real-space images of polymers with sub-molecular resolution could provide valuable insights into the relationship between morphology and functionality of polymer optoelectronic devices, but their acquisition is problematic due to perceived limitations in atomic force microscopy (AFM). We show that individual thiophene units and the lattice of semicrystalline spin-coated films of polythiophenes (PTs) may be resolved using AFM under ambient conditions through the low-amplitude (??1?nm) excitation of higher eigenmodes of a cantilever. PT strands are adsorbed on hexagonal boron nitride near-parallel to the surface in islands with lateral dimensions ~10?nm. On the surface of a spin-coated PT thin film, in which the thiophene groups are perpendicular to the interface, we resolve terminal CH3-groups in a square arrangement with a lattice constant 0.55?nm from which we can identify abrupt boundaries and also regions with more slowly varying disorder, which allow comparison with proposed models of PT domains.


Korolkov, V. V., Summerfield, A., Murphy, A., Amabilino, D. B., Watanabe, K., Taniguchi, T., & Beton, P. H. (2019). Ultra-high resolution imaging of thin films and single strands of polythiophene using atomic force microscopy. Nature Communications, 10,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 6, 2019
Online Publication Date Apr 4, 2019
Publication Date Apr 4, 2019
Deposit Date Mar 20, 2019
Publicly Available Date Apr 5, 2019
Journal Nature Communications
Electronic ISSN 2041-1723
Publisher Nature Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 10
Article Number 1537
Keywords General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology; General Physics and Astronomy; General Chemistry
Public URL
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