Now a team led by researchers at Stanford and Harvard universities has developed a new organic semiconductor material that is among the speediest yet. The scientists also accelerated the development process by using a predictive approach that lopped many months – and could lop years – off the typical timeline.
A single crystal of the new organic semiconductor material shown in polarized light. It is approximately twice as fast as the parent organic material from which it was derived. The white scale bar at the bottom center of the photo represents 10 microns (10 millionths of a meter). Credit: Anatoliy Sokolov
For the most part, developing a new organic electronic material has been a time-intensive, somewhat hit-or-miss process, requiring researchers to synthesize large numbers of candidate materials and then test them.
The Stanford and Harvard-led group decided to try a computational predictive approach to substantially narrow the field of candidates before expending the time and energy to make any of them.
"Synthesizing some of these compounds can take years," said Anatoliy Sokolov, a postdoctoral researcher in chemical engineering at Stanford, who worked on synthesizing the material the team eventually settled on. "It is not a simple thing to do."
Sokolov works in the laboratory of Zhenan Bao, an associate professor of chemical engineering at Stanford. They are among the authors of a paper describing the work, published in the Aug. 16 issue of Nature Communications. Alán Aspuru-Guzik, an associate professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard, led the research group there and directed the theory and computation efforts.
The researchers used a material known as DNTT, which had already been shown to be a good organic semiconductor, as their starting point, then considered various compounds possessing chemical and electrical properties that seemed likely to enhance the parent material's performance if they were attached.
They came up with seven promising candidates.
Semiconductors are all about moving an electrical charge from one place to another as fast as possible. How well a material performs that task is determined by how easy is it for a charge to hop onto the material and how easily that charge can move from one molecule to another within the material.
Using the expected chemical and structural properties of the modified materials, the Harvard team predicted that two of the seven candidates would most readily accept a charge. They calculated that one of those two was markedly faster in passing that charge from molecule to molecule, so that became their choice. From their analysis, they expected the new material to be about twice as fast as its parent.
Sokolov, the Stanford researcher, said it took about a year and a half to perfect the synthesis of the new compound and make enough of it to test. "Our final yield from what we produced was something like 3 percent usable material and then we still had to purify it."
When the team members tested the final product, their predictions were borne out. The modified material doubled the speed of the parent material. For comparison, the new material is more than 30 times faster than the amorphous silicon currently used for liquid crystal displays in products such as flat panel televisions and computer monitors.
"It would have taken several years to both synthesize and characterize all the seven candidate compounds. With this approach, we were able to focus on the most promising candidate with the best performance, as predicted by theory," Bao said. "This is a rare example of truly 'rational' design of new high performance materials."
The researchers hope their predictive approach can serve as a blueprint for other research groups working to find a better material for organic semiconductors.
And they're eager to apply their method to the development of new, high-efficiency material for organic solar cells.
"In the case of renewable energy, we have no time for synthesizing all the possible candidates, we need theory to complement synthetic approaches to accelerate materials discovery," said Aspuru-Guzik.
Louis Bergeron | EurekAlert!
Novel sensors could enable smarter textiles
17.08.2018 | University of Delaware
Quantum material is promising 'ion conductor' for research, new technologies
17.08.2018 | Purdue University
New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference
Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...
Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...
Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.
When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...
Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.
Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....
Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.
Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...
17.08.2018 | Event News
08.08.2018 | Event News
27.07.2018 | Event News
17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
17.08.2018 | Information Technology
17.08.2018 | Life Sciences