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Implementing the donor–acceptor approach in electronically conducting copolymers via electropolymerization

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Ben Horrocks



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Electropolymerization has become a convenient method for synthesizing and characterizing complex organic copolymers having intrinsic electronic conductivity, including the donor (D)–acceptor (A) class of electronically conducting polymers (ECPs). This review begins with an introduction to the electrosynthesis of common second-generation ECPs. The information obtainable from electroanalytical studies, charge carriers such as polarons (positive and negative) and bipolarons (positive and negative) and doping will be discussed. The evolutionary chain of ECPs is then presented. ECPs comprising electron-rich D and electron-deficient A moieties have been shown to possess intrinsic electronic conductivity and unique optical and electronic properties. They are third generation ECPs and electropolymerization of mixtures of D and A leads to stoichiometrically controlled block copolymers. These D–A type ECPs are discussed on the basis of selected representative materials. Since the discovery of electropolymerization as a powerful tool to synthesize copolymers of conjugated monomers with a pre-determined ratio of D and A repeat units present in the polymer, the field of D–A type ECPs has grown considerably and the literature available since 2004 to 2021 is summarized and tabulated. Electronic and optical properties of the materials determined by computational chemistry are presented. The data obtained from electrochemical and optical methods are compared with those obtained from computational methods and reasons for discrepancies are given. The literature on the concept of electropolymerization extended to synthesizing triblock and many-block copolymers is reviewed. Finally, applications of D–A polymers in optoelectronic devices (organic solar cells and field-effect transistors) and in bio-imaging are explained quoting appropriate examples.

Publication metadata

Author(s): GaminiRajapakse RM, Watkins DL, Ranathunge TA, Malikaramage AU, Gunarathna HMNP, Sandakelum L, Wylie S, Abewardana PGPR, Egodawele MGSAMEWDDK, Herath WHMRNK, Bandara SV, Strongin DR, Attanayake NH, Velauthapillai D, Horrocks BR

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: RSC Advances

Year: 2022

Volume: 12

Pages: 12089 - 12115

Online publication date: 20/04/2022

Acceptance date: 05/04/2022

Date deposited: 21/04/2022

ISSN (electronic): 2046-2069

Publisher: Royal Society of Chemistry


DOI: 10.1039/D2RA01176J

Notes: Gold OA


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