Low energy vibrations in the excited state have been hypothesized to play an important role in quickly and efficiently generating free charges in bulk heterojunctions of some conjugated polymer systems. While time-resolved vibrational spectroscopies seemingly are well poised to address the relationship between kinetics and vibrational motions after initial photoexcitation, uncertainty in the measurement arises due to overlapping signals and difficulties in assigning observed oscillatory signals to the molecular response. Here, we demonstrate a high sensitivity strategy to distinguish between signal oscillations originating from lab noise and those molecular in origin in order to isolate the low energy excited-state vibrations in the model conjugated copolymer PCDTBT. Furthermore, to distinguish modes that may be implicated in different kinetic pathways, coherent signal oscillations extracted from 2-dimensional electronic spectroscopy (2DES) are compared for the polymer in two solvents with different polarities resulting in different kinetics. We observe that the change in solvent affects dynamics on the >2 ps scale but not on the time scale required for free charge generation in heterojunctions (similar to 200 fs time scale). By the same token, the excited state vibrational modes that appear and disappear based on solvent polarity may also be associated with the slower kinetic process. The observation of low energy vibrational motions coupled to the excited state manifold that persists through the solvent change and thus can be associated with the fast kinetic process supports the hypothesis that direct polaron formation, rather than exciton formation and diffusion followed by interfacial charge separation, is a more likely route toward free charges in organic heterostructures. Published under license by AIP Publishing.
- CHARGE SEPARATION