Insights into Magneto-Optics of Helical Conjugated Polymers


Materials with magneto-optic (MO) properties have enabled critical fiber-optic applications and highly sensitive magnetic field sensors. While traditional MO materials are inorganic in nature, new generations of MO materials based on organic semiconducting polymers could allow increased versatility for device architectures, manufacturing options, and flexible mechanics. However, the origin of MO activity in semiconducting polymers is far from understood. In this paper, we report high MO activity observed in a chiral helical poly-3-(alkylsulfone)thiophene (P3AST), which confirms a new design for the creation of a giant Faraday effect with Verdet constants up to (7.63 ± 0.78) × 104 deg T–1 m–1 at 532 nm. We have determined that the sign of the Verdet constant and its magnitude are related to the helicity of the polymer at the measured wavelength. The Faraday rotation and the helical conformation of P3AST are modulated by thermal annealing, which is further supported by DFT calculations and MD simulations. Our results demonstrate that helical polymers exhibit enhanced Verdet constants and expand the previous design space for polythiophene MO materials that was thought to be limited to highly regular lamellar structures. The structure–property studies herein provide insights for the design of next-generation MO materials based upon semiconducting organic polymers.

J. Am. Chem. Soc.