The influence of dielectric surface energy on the initial nucleation and the growth of pentacene films as well as the electrical properties of the pentacene-based field-effect transistors are investigated. We have examined a range of organic and inorganic dielectrics with different surface energies, such as polycarbonate/SiO2, polystyrene/SiO2, and PMMA/SiO2 bi-layered dielectrics and also the bare SiO2 dielectric. Atomic force microscopy measurements of sub-monolayer and thick pentacene films indicated that the growth of pentacene film was in Stranski-Kranstanow growth mode on all the dielectrics. However, the initial nucleation density and the size of the first-layered pentacene islands deposited on different dielectrics are drastically influenced by the dielectric surface energy. With the increasing of the surface energy, the nucleation density increased and thus the average size of pentacene islands for the first mono-layer deposition decreased. The performance of fabricated pentacene-based thin film transistors was found to be highly related to nucleation density and the island size of deposited Pentacene film, and it had no relationship to the final particle size of the thick pentacene film. The field effect mobility of the thin film transistor could be achieved as high as 1.38 cm2/Vs with on/off ratio over 3 × 107 on the PS/SiO2 where the lowest surface energy existed among all the dielectrics. For comparison, the values of mobility and on/off ratio were 0.42 cm2/Vs and 1 × 106 for thin film transistor deposited directly on bare SiO2 having the highest surface energy.
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