Experimentelle Physik IV

    Andreas Ruff (PhD thesis)

    Andreas Ruff (PhD thesis): On the importance of electronic correlations in potassium-doped organic semiconductors


    The present thesis is concerned with the impact of alkali metal-doping on the electronic structure of semiconducting organic thin films. The organic molecular systems which have been studied are the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons picene, pentacene, and coronene. Motivated by reports about exceptional behavior like superconductivity and electronic correlations of their alkali metal-doped compounds, high quality films fabricated from the above named molecules have been studied.
    The electronic structure of the pristine materials and their doped compounds has been investigated using photoelectron spectroscopy. Core level and valence band studies of undoped films yield excellent photoemission spectra agreeing with or even outperforming previously reported data from the literature. Alkali metal-doping manifests itself in a uniform manner in the electronic structure for all probed samples: Opposed to reports from the literature about metallicity and even superconductivity in alkali metal-doped picene, pentacene, and coronene, all films exhibit insulating nature with an energy gap of the order of one electron-volt. Remarkably, this is independent of the doping concentration and the type of dopant, i.e., potassium, cesium, or sodium. Based on the interplay between narrow bandwidths in organic semiconductors and sufficiently high on-molecule Coulomb repulsion, the non-metallicity is attributed to the strong influence of electronic correlations leading to the formation of a Mott insulator. In the case of picene, this is consolidated by calculations using a combination of density functional theory and dynamical mean-field theory.
    Beyond the extensive considerations regarding electronic correlations, further intriguing aspects have been observed. The deposition of thin picene films leads to the formation of a non-equilibrium situation between substrate and film surface. Here, the establishment of a homogeneous chemical potential is hampered due to the only weak van der Waals-interactions between the molecular layers in the films. Consequently, spectral weight is measurable above the reference chemical potential in photoemission. Furthermore, it has been found that the acceptance of additional electrons in pentacene is limited. While picene and coronene are able to host up to three extra electrons, in pentacene the limit is already reached for one electron.
    Finally, further extrinsic effects, coming along with alkali metal-doping, have been scrutinized. The oxidation of potassium atoms induced by the reaction with molecular oxygen in the residual gas of the ultra-high vacuum system turned out to significantly influence the electronic structure of alkali metal-doped picene and coronene. Moreover, also the applied X-ray and UV irradiation caused a certain impact on the photoemission spectra. Surprisingly, both effects did not play a role in the studies of potassium-doped pentacene.

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