Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • Letter
  • Published:

Tuning charge transport in solution-sheared organic semiconductors using lattice strain


Circuits based on organic semiconductors are being actively explored for flexible, transparent and low-cost electronic applications1,2,3,4,5. But to realize such applications, the charge carrier mobilities of solution-processed organic semiconductors must be improved. For inorganic semiconductors, a general method of increasing charge carrier mobility is to introduce strain within the crystal lattice6. Here we describe a solution-processing technique for organic semiconductors in which lattice strain is used to increase charge carrier mobilities by introducing greater electron orbital overlap between the component molecules. For organic semiconductors, the spacing between cofacially stacked, conjugated backbones (the π–π stacking distance) greatly influences electron orbital overlap and therefore mobility7. Using our method to incrementally introduce lattice strain, we alter the π–π stacking distance of 6,13-bis(triisopropylsilylethynyl) pentacene (TIPS-pentacene) from 3.33 Å to 3.08 Å. We believe that 3.08 Å is the shortest π–π stacking distance that has been achieved in an organic semiconductor crystal lattice (although a π–π distance of 3.04 Å has been achieved through intramolecular bonding8,9,10). The positive charge carrier (hole) mobility in TIPS-pentacene transistors increased from 0.8 cm2 V−1 s−1 for unstrained films to a high mobility of 4.6 cm2 V−1 s−1 for a strained film. Using solution processing to modify molecular packing through lattice strain should aid the development of high-performance, low-cost organic semiconducting devices.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Figure 1: Solution-shearing schematic and cross-polarized optical microscope images of solution-sheared films.
Figure 2: Change in GIXD pattern of TIPS-pentacene as function of shearing speed.
Figure 3: Molecular packing structure of TIPS-pentacene thin films prepared under different conditions.
Figure 4: Lattice strain and charge transport properties as a function of shearing speed.

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. Dimitrakopoulos, C. D. & Malenfant, P. R. L. Organic thin film transistors for large area electronics. Adv. Mater. 14, 99–117 (2002)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Jones, B. A. et al. High-mobility air-stable n-type semiconductors with processing versatility: dicyanoperylene-3,4:9,10-bis(dicarboximides). Angew. Chem. 116, 6523–6526 (2004)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Rogers, J. A. et al. Paper-like electronic displays: large-area rubber-stamped plastic sheets of electronics and microencapsulated electrophoretic inks. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 98, 4835–4840 (2001)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Gao, P. et al. Dithieno[2,3-d;2′,3′-d′]benzo[1,2-b;4,5-b′]dithiophene (DTBDT) as semiconductor for high-performance, solution-processed organic field-effect transistors. Adv. Mater. 21, 213–216 (2009)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Zhang, M. et al. Field-effect transistors based on a benzothiadiazole−cyclopentadithiophene copolymer. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 129, 3472–3473 (2007)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Lee, M. L., Fitzgerald, E. A., Bulsara, M. T., Currie, M. T. & Lochtefeld, A. Strained Si, SiGe, and Ge channels for high-mobility metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistors. J. Appl. Phys. 97, 011101 (2005)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  7. Bredas, J. L., Calbert, J. P., da Silva Filho, D. A. & Cornil, J. Organic semiconductors: a theoretical characterization of the basic parameters governing charge transport. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 99, 5804–5809 (2002)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Che, C.-M. et al. Single microcrystals of organoplatinum(II) complexes with high charge-carrier mobility. Chem. Sci. 2, 216–220 (2011)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Chui, S. S. et al. Homoleptic platinum(II) and palladium(II) organothiolates and phenylselenolates: solvothermal synthesis, structural determination, optical properties, and single-source precursors for PdSe and PdS nanocrystals. Chem. Asian J. 5, 2062–2074 (2010)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Sokolov, A. N. Molecular Co-crystals: Semiconductors, Photoactive Solids, and Catalysts PhD thesis, Univ. Iowa. (2007)

  11. Ni, Z. H. et al. Uniaxial strain on graphene: Raman spectroscopy study and band-gap opening. ACS Nano 2, 2301–2305 (2008)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Anthony, J. E., Eaton, D. L. & Parkin, S. R. A road map to stable, soluble, easily crystallized pentacene derivatives. Org. Lett. 4, 15–18 (2002)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Tang, M. L., Oh, J. H., Reichardt, A. D. & Bao, Z. Chlorination: a general route toward electron transport in organic semiconductors. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 131, 3733–3740 (2009)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  14. Okamoto, T. et al. Synthesis, characterization, and field-effect transistor performance of pentacene derivatives. Adv. Mater. 19, 3381–3384 (2007)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Feng, X. et al. Towards high charge-carrier mobilities by rational design of the shape and periphery of discotics. Nature Mater. 8, 421–426 (2009)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  16. Gsänger, M. et al. A crystal-engineered hydrogen-bonded octachloroperylene diimide with a twisted core: an n-channel organic semiconductor. Angew. Chem. 122, 752–755 (2010)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Chen, J., Anthony, J. & Martin, D. C. Thermally induced solid-state phase transition of bis(triisopropylsilylethynyl) pentacene crystals. J. Phys. Chem. B 110, 16397–16403 (2006)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  18. Yuan, Q. et al. Thin film structure of tetraceno[2,3-b]thiophene characterized by grazing incidence X-ray scattering and near-edge X-ray absorption fine structure analysis. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 130, 3502–3508 (2008)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  19. Mannsfeld, S. C. B., Tang, M. L. & Bao, Z. Thin film structure of triisopropylsilylethynyl-functionalized pentacene and tetraceno[2,3-b]thiophene from grazing incidence X-ray diffraction. Adv. Mater. 23, 127–131 (2011)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  20. Sakanoue, T. & Sirringhaus, H. Band-like temperature dependence of mobility in a solution-processed organic semiconductor. Nature Mater. 9, 736–740 (2010)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  21. Lee, W. H. et al. Solution-processable pentacene microcrystal arrays for high performance organic field-effect transistors. Appl. Phys. Lett. 90, 132106 (2007)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  22. Becerril, H. A., Roberts, M. E., Liu, Z., Locklin, J. & Bao, Z. High-performance organic thin-film transistors through solution-sheared deposition of small-molecule organic semiconductors. Adv. Mater. 20, 2588–2594 (2008)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  23. Lovinger, A. J. & Wang, T. T. Investigation of the properties of directionally solidified poly(vinylidene fluoride). Polymer 20, 725–732 (1979)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  24. Rogowski, R. Z. & Darhuber, A. A. Crystal growth near moving contact lines on homogeneous and chemically patterned surfaces. Langmuir 26, 11485–11493 (2010)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  25. Sele, C. W. et al. Controlled deposition of highly ordered soluble acene thin films: effect of morphology and crystal orientation on transistor performance. Adv. Mater. 21, 4926–4931 (2009)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  26. Rivnay, J. et al. Large modulation of carrier transport by grain-boundary molecular packing and microstructure in organic thin films. Nature Mater. 8, 952–958 (2009)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  27. Park, S. K., Jackson, T. N., Anthony, J. E. & Mourey, D. A. High mobility solution processed 6,13-bis(triisopropyl-silylethynyl) pentacene organic thin film transistors. Appl. Phys. Lett. 91, 063514 (2007)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  28. Chen, J., Tee, C. K., Shtein, M., Anthony, J. & Martin, D. C. Grain-boundary-limited charge transport in solution-processed 6,13 bis(tri-isopropylsilylethynyl) pentacene thin film transistors. J. Appl. Phys. 103, 114512–114513 (2008)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  29. Lee, S. S. et al. Controlling nucleation and crystallization in solution-processed organic semiconductors for thin-film transistors. Adv. Mater. 21, 3605–3609 (2009)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  30. Ito, Y. et al. Crystalline ultrasmooth self-assembled monolayers of alkylsilanes for organic field-effect transistors. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 131, 9396–9404 (2009)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references


We thank A. Salleo, J. E. Anthony, H. Li, A. Sokolov and J. Rivnay for discussions. We thank J. E. Anthony and M. M. Nelson of 3M Corp. for providing high-purity TIPS-pentacene. This publication was partially supported by the National Science Foundation DMR-Solid State Chemistry (DMR-0705687-002), the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology, the Global Climate and Energy Project at Stanford University (SPO 25591130-45282-A) and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (award number FA9550-09--0256). E.V. thanks the Eastman Kodak Corporation Kodak Fellows Program for support. Z.B. acknowledges support from the David Filo and Jerry Yang Faculty Fellowship from Stanford University. Portions of this research were carried out at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource, a national user facility operated by Stanford University on behalf of the US Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Sciences. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Stanford University, the Sponsors of the Global Climate and Energy Project, or others involved with the Global Climate and Energy Project.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



G.G. and H.A.B. built the current version of the solution-shearing set-up. G.G. and E.V. performed X-ray and transistor measurements. S.C.B.M. performed unit cell and molecular packing calculations. G.G., E.V., S.C.B.M., D.H.K., M.F.T. and Z.B. analysed the X-ray data. S.A.-E. and A.A.-G. performed transfer integral calculations. G.G., E.V. and Z.B. wrote the manuscript, and all other authors had input. Z.B. and S.Y.L. directed the project.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Zhenan Bao.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

This file contains Supplementary Methods and a Discussion, Supplementary Figures 1-13 with legends, Supplementary Tables 1-4, legends for Supplementary Movies 1-2 and additional references. (PDF 1309 kb)

Supplementary Movie 1

This movie shows in-situ strain relief of GIXD peaks during toluene vapor annealing. (MPG 3408 kb)

Supplementary Movie 2

This movie shows in-situ heating TIPS-pentacene thin films, showing no strain relief of the (010) GIXD peak. (MPG 3074 kb)

Supplementary Data 1

This file shows the structure of thin film unstrained TIPS-pentacene. (TXT 3 kb)

Supplementary Data 2

This file shows the structure of thin film strained TIPS-pentacene solution sheared at 8mm/s (TXT 3 kb)

PowerPoint slides

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Giri, G., Verploegen, E., Mannsfeld, S. et al. Tuning charge transport in solution-sheared organic semiconductors using lattice strain. Nature 480, 504–508 (2011).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing