"This work is exciting because it helps reveal in new detail how we can achieve high performance transistors and solar cells with polymers," said UC Santa Barbara professor of materials Michael Chabinyc, who, with UCSB chemistry graduate student Justin Cochran and North Carolina State physicists Harald Ade and Brian Collins, set out to find out which materials and which processing steps worked better, in what is still a largely trial-and-error process for manufacturers of printable electronics. This effort also involved collaboration with an international team, including researchers from Monash University in Australia and Univeristät Erlangen-Nümberg in Germany.
This is an image of a printed electronics system.
Credit: Peter Allen
Printed electronics is a process that employs fairly common printing methods to deposit inks containing organic conductive molecules onto surfaces, to creating circuitry for a variety of electronic devices, including photovoltaics, displays, and even luminescent clothing. The process is faster and cheaper than conventional production techniques for the same products, and could pave the way toward making these devices more accessible to consumers.
However, until recently, the process of selecting these organic materials –– and what steps to take in order to improve their performance –– was something of a mystery. Some materials and treatments worked better than others, and the researchers set out to find out why.
The researchers developed a technique that used powerful X-rays to peer into these organic materials at the molecular level. They found that the performance of the material had to do with its molecular alignment, and that this alignment was controlled by simple methods such as heating and molecular interactions at surface levels.
"In transistors, we found that as the alignment between molecules increased, so did the performance," Collins said. "In the case of the solar cells, we discovered alignment of molecules at interfaces in the device, which may be the key to more efficient harvesting of light. For both, this was the first time anyone had been able to really look at what was happening at the molecular level."
The researchers hope that the new X-ray technique will provide a better perspective into the nature of organic materials used in printed electronics.
"We're hoping that this technique will give researchers and manufacturers greater insight into the fundamentals of these materials," Collins said. "Understanding how these materials work can only lead to improved performance and better commercial viability."
Funding for work on organic transistors at UCSB and NCSU was supported by the Division of Materials Research of the National Science Foundation, through an award from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Sonia Fernandez | EurekAlert!
Looking at linkers helps to join the dots
10.07.2020 | King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST)
Goodbye Absorbers: High-Precision Laser Welding of Plastics
10.07.2020 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT
A novel mechanism for electron optics in two-dimensional solid-state systems opens up a route to engineering quantum-optical phenomena in a variety of materials
Electrons can interfere in the same manner as water, acoustical or light waves do. When exploited in solid-state materials, such effects promise novel...
Biochemists at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) have used a standard electron cryo-microscope to achieve surprisingly good images that are on par with those taken by far more sophisticated equipment. They have succeeded in determining the structure of ferritin almost at the atomic level. Their results were published in the journal "PLOS ONE".
Electron cryo-microscopy has become increasingly important in recent years, especially in shedding light on protein structures. The developers of the new...
New insight into the spin behavior in an exotic state of matter puts us closer to next-generation spintronic devices
Aside from the deep understanding of the natural world that quantum physics theory offers, scientists worldwide are working tirelessly to bring forth a...
Kiel physics team observed extremely fast electronic changes in real time in a special material class
In physics, they are currently the subject of intensive research; in electronics, they could enable completely new functions. So-called topological materials...
Solar cells based on perovskite compounds could soon make electricity generation from sunlight even more efficient and cheaper. The laboratory efficiency of these perovskite solar cells already exceeds that of the well-known silicon solar cells. An international team led by Stefan Weber from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz has found microscopic structures in perovskite crystals that can guide the charge transport in the solar cell. Clever alignment of these "electron highways" could make perovskite solar cells even more powerful.
Solar cells convert sunlight into electricity. During this process, the electrons of the material inside the cell absorb the energy of the light....
07.07.2020 | Event News
02.07.2020 | Event News
19.05.2020 | Event News
15.07.2020 | Architecture and Construction
15.07.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering
15.07.2020 | Physics and Astronomy