Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Polymer synthesis could aid future electronics

20.07.2010
Tomorrow's television and computer screens could be brighter, clearer and more energy-efficient as a result of a process developed by a team of researchers from Canada and the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The synthesis of a conjugated organic polymer--widely used as a conductive material in devices like light-emitting diodes, televisions and solar cells--could mean more efficient, cheaper electronics.

In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group of scientists from ORNL and two Canadian universities outlined their success in growing highly structured short chains of polymer poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene), or PEDOT. Analysis and understanding of the polymerization process and results were provided with the help of ORNL supercomputers.

The theoretical expertise provided by ORNL scientists Bobby Sumpter and Vincent Meunier in synthesizing the PEDOT polymer could potentially have an impact on everyday electronic products. PEDOT is valued in electronic applications for the transparency, ductility and stability of its conducting, or doped, state. Because of its role as conductive material in organic light-emitting diodes, PEDOT is found in many electronic devices such as televisions and computer monitors.

The polymer is also used in many solar panel cells as a hole-filling material. "It's one of the most successfully used semiconducting polymers on the planet," Sumpter said.

Improving and controlling the molecular order of a nanostructured PEDOT material is critical to the polymer's performance in electronic applications. The highly ordered polymer arrays such as those constructed by the researchers could lead to increased efficiencies in a multitude of electronic devices.

To create ordered arrays of the PEDOT polymer, the team placed a precursor molecule onto a copper crystalline surface, which helped to guide and initiate the polymerization reaction. Team member Meunier of ORNL compared the process to placing eggs in an egg carton, where the free energy minima, or "indentations," in the copper surface allow the molecules to neatly stack next to each other to form a compact and organized polymer structure.

"The chemistry and resulting stereochemical structure on the surface are very unusual," said Sumpter. "Most attempts to synthesize polymers usually result in imperfect polymer arrays with a very different prominent structure."

Sumpter and Meunier from ORNL's Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences with appointments in the Computer Science and Mathematics Division collaborated in the project by analyzing the results through a "virtual microscope." Based on density functional theory calculations and simulations performed on ORNL supercomputers, the "virtual microscopy" revealed the highly organized structure of the polymer arrays. By examining the polymer formation with the conventional means of scanning tunneling microscopy combined with the virtual microscopy, the team was able to clearly illustrate the construction and bonding of PEDOT arrays.

"This experiment defines what nanoscience is about--a mixture of experimental techniques combined with theoretical knowledge," Meunier said. "It was an excellent opportunity to interface directly with experimentalists and establish new international collaborations."

Although the team focused its research on the PEDOT polymer, the researchers believe the same approach could potentially be used to construct other well-defined polymers.

These findings are published as "Step-by-step growth of epitaxially aligned polythiophene by surface-confined reaction" (Lipton-Duffin et al.) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research team included scientists from Université du Québec and McGill University in Canada.

This research was funded by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Air Force Office of Scientific Research and Asian Office of Aerospace Research and Development of the USA, the Petroleum Research Fund of the American Chemical Society, the Ministère du Développement économique, de l'Innovation et de l'Exportation of Quebec, the Fonds québécois de la rescherche sur la nature e les technologies Centre for Self-Assembled Chemical Structures, a DuPont Young Professor Award, and the Canada Research Chairs Program. Additional support was provided by the DOE Office of Science through the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences and the Polymer-Based Materials for Harvesting Solar Energy center, an Energy Frontier Research Center.

The Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences at ORNL is one of the five DOE Nanoscale Science Research Centers supported by the DOE Office of Science, premier national user facilities for interdisciplinary research at the nanoscale. Together the NSRCs comprise a suite of complementary facilities that provide researchers with state-of-the-art capabilities to fabricate, process, characterize and model nanoscale materials, and constitute the largest infrastructure investment of the National Nanotechnology Initiative. The NSRCs are located at DOE's Argonne, Brookhaven, Lawrence Berkeley, Oak Ridge and Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories. For more information about the DOE NSRCs, please visit http://nano.energy.gov.

ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy's Office of Science.

Morgan McCorkle | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ornl.gov
http://nano.energy.gov

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Scientists create biodegradable, paper-based biobatteries
08.08.2018 | Binghamton University

nachricht Ricocheting radio waves monitor the tiniest movements in a room
07.08.2018 | Duke University

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

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...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

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....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

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...

Im Focus: Lining up surprising behaviors of superconductor with one of the world's strongest magnets

Scientists have discovered that the electrical resistance of a copper-oxide compound depends on the magnetic field in a very unusual way -- a finding that could help direct the search for materials that can perfectly conduct electricity at room temperatur

What happens when really powerful magnets--capable of producing magnetic fields nearly two million times stronger than Earth's--are applied to materials that...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

2018 Work Research Conference

25.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Staying in Shape

16.08.2018 | Life Sciences

Diving robots find Antarctic seas exhale surprising amounts of carbon dioxide in winter

16.08.2018 | Earth Sciences

Protein droplets keep neurons at the ready and immune system in balance

16.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>