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Reversible optical control of conjugated polymer solubility with sub-micrometer resolution.

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Organic electronics promise to provide flexible, large-area circuitry such as photovoltaics, displays, and light emitting diodes that can be fabricated inexpensively from solutions. A major obstacle to this vision is that most conjugated organic materials are miscible, making solution-based fabrication of multilayer or micro- to nanoscale patterned films problematic. Here we demonstrate that the solubility of prototypical conductive polymer poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) can be reversibly "switched off" using high electron affinity molecular dopants, then later recovered with light or a suitable dedoping solution. Using this technique, we are able to stack mutually soluble materials and laterally pattern polymer films by evaporation or with light, achieving sub-micrometer, optically limited feature sizes. After forming these structures, the films can be dedoped without disrupting the patterned features; dedoped films have identical optical characteristics, charge carrier mobilities, and NMR spectra as as-cast P3HT films. This method greatly simplifies solution-based device fabrication, is easily adaptable to current manufacturing workflows, and is potentially generalizable to other classes of materials.

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