Those tricks improve the properties of certain organic polymers that mimic the properties of traditional inorganic semiconductors and could make the polymers very useful in organic solar cells, light-emitting diodes and thin-film transistors.
Conductive polymers date back to the late 1970s when researchers Alan Heeger, Alan MacDiarmid and Hideki Shirakawa discovered that plastics, with certain arrangements of atoms, can conduct electricity. The three were awarded the 2000 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery.
Jeffries-EL, an Iowa State assistant professor of chemistry, is working with a post-doctoral researcher and nine doctoral students to move the field forward by studying the relationship between polymer structures and the electronic, physical and optical properties of the materials. They're also looking for ways to synthesize the polymers without the use of harsh acids and temperatures by making them soluble in organic solvents.
The building blocks of their work are a variety of benzobisazoles, molecules well suited for electrical applications because they efficiently transport electrons, are stable at high temperatures and can absorb photons.
And if the polymers are lacking in any of those properties, Jeffries-EL and her research group can do some chemical restructuring.
"With these polymers, if you don't have the properties you need, you can go back and change the wheel," Jeffries-EL said. "You can change the chemical synthesis and produce what's missing."
That, she said, doesn't work with silicon and other inorganic materials for semiconductors: "Silicon is silicon. Elements are constant."
The National Science Foundation is supporting Jeffries-EL's polymer research with a five-year, $486,250 Faculty Early Career Development grant. She also has support from the Iowa Power Fund (a state program that supports energy innovation and independence) to apply organic semiconductor technology to solar cells.
The research group is seeing some results, including peer-reviewed papers over the past two years in Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, Macromolecules, the Journal of Polymer Science Part A: Polymer Chemistry, and the Journal of Organic Chemistry.
"This research is really about fundamental science," Jeffries-EL said. "We're studying the relationships between structure and material properties. Once we have a polymer with a certain set of properties, what can we do?"
She and her research group are turning to the molecules for answers.
"In order to realize the full potential of these materials, they must be engineered at the molecular level, allowing for optimization of materials properties, leading to enhanced performance in a variety of applications," Jeffries-EL wrote in a research summary. "As an organic chemist, my approach to materials begins with small molecules.
Malika Jeffries-EL | EurekAlert!
A Map of the Cell’s Power Station
18.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
On the way to developing a new active ingredient against chronic infections
18.08.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
18.08.2017 | Life Sciences
18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences