Large Damage Threshold and Small Electron Escape Depth in X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy of a Conjugated Polymer Thin Film Academic Article uri icon


  • The information depth of near-edge X-ray absorption fine structure spectroscopy in the total electron yield mode (TEY-NEXAFS) is given by the escape depth of the TEY electrons z(TEY). This is determined by the effective ranges both of the inelastically scattered secondary electrons and of the primary excited electron before they thermalize below the vacuum level. For regioregular poly(3-hexylthiophene) (rreg-P3HT) thin films, we have measured the total electron emission efficiency to be 0.028 +/- 0.005 e/ph at an incident photon energy of 320 eV. The range of the primary electron was computed using optical dielectric-loss theory to be 7.5 nm. The range of the secondary electrons was then found by modeling to be 3.0 nm. This gives z(TEY) to be 2.5 nm, which is considerably less than the often-assumed value of 10 nm in the literature. It is also considerably smaller than the computed electron-electron scattering inelastic mean free path in the material, which suggests the predominance of electron-phonon scattering. Thus, TEY-NEXAFS has sufficient surface sensitivity to probe the frontier molecular layers of these organic conjugated polymers. In a second aspect of this report, the rreg-P3HT films have been characterized by in-situ core and valence photoemission spectroscopies and by ex-situ microattenuated total-reflection vibrational spectroscopy as a function of irradiation dose. No damage was observed in composition, bonding, orientation, and surface morphology under typical TEY-NEXAFS spectral acquisition conditions. For an integrated TEY that exceeds 2 x 10(-3) C cm(-2), however, the material degrades via alkyl side-chain dehydrogenation to unsaturated units, cross linking, ring opening of the backbone, and sulfur extrusion. Given that secondary electrons are the dominant cause of radiation damage, this exposure threshold measured by integrated TEY should also be valid at other X-ray energies.


  • Chua, Lay-Lay
  • Dipankar, Mandal
  • Sivaramakrishnan, Sankaran
  • Gao, Xingyu
  • Qi, Dongchen
  • Wee, Andrew TS
  • Ho, Peter KH

publication date

  • September 2006