Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Moving electrons at the molecular and nanometer scales

15.03.2005


Possible applications for solar cells and other small-scale circuits



Learning how to control the movement of electrons on the molecular and nanometer scales could help scientists devise small-scale circuits for a wide variety of applications, including more efficient ways of storing and using solar energy. Marshall Newton, a theoretical chemist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, will present at talk at the 229th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society highlighting the theoretical techniques used to understand the factors affecting electron movement. The talk will take place Monday, March 14, at 10 a.m. in Room 8 of the San Diego Convention Center.

"Electron donor/acceptor interactions govern a huge number of microscopic processes that everything and everybody is dependent upon," says Newton, "from the movement of electrons in electronic devices to the separation of charges necessary for life processes such as nerve cell communication and photosynthesis."


Theoretical chemists like Newton are trying to develop models to understand these interactions in molecular systems, where complex molecules with arbitrary shapes communicate electronically over long distances. Measuring the electronic conductance, or the strength of electron transfer, is one essential part of understanding how the electrons move.

Of particular interest to Newton is learning how the atomic nuclei that exist in the surrounding environment affect the electrons’ flow. "The nuclei produce what we call vibronic interactions, which can inhibit or facilitate the flow of the electrons," Newton says. "So we need to understand this effect of the electrons’ ’environment’ if we want to control the flow."

For example, Newton says, "If you are trying to move charge or energy down a wire, you ideally want it to move down a particular linear pathway. You want to keep it directed in a narrow, confining path, without any conducting paths going off in other directions. If you understand what factors aid or hinder conductance, it should be possible to align the conducting properties in one direction and inhibit them in other directions to achieve that goal."

Through collaborations with experimental colleagues, Newton regularly has a chance to test his theoretical analyses against actual experimental results. "The more we look into these processes theoretically and experimentally, the more complicated the picture becomes. But we think we are getting a good understanding of the key variables that control events at this scale -- what promotes good electronic communication and what may inhibit it," he says.

With that understanding, it might be possible to design molecular systems to achieve particular goals, such as improving upon photosynthesis -- a research initiative actively supported by the Department of Energy’s mission to secure America’s future energy needs. One of the first steps in photosynthesis is getting charges separated, then using that energy to make chemical energy you can store for later use. That’s the idea behind solar cells. But surpassing nature’s design remains a major challenge.

According to Newton, such rational chemical design is far from impossible: "Synthetic chemistry is open ended. If you have an idea about a type of molecule you want to build, you can do it, guided by theoretical understanding to direct your design," he says.

Karen McNulty Walsh | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.bnl.gov

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A novel synthetic antibody enables conditional “protein knockdown” in vertebrates
20.08.2018 | Technische Universität Dresden

nachricht Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves
17.08.2018 | Leibniz Universität Hannover

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: It’s All in the Mix: Jülich Researchers are Developing Fast-Charging Solid-State Batteries

There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.

The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

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...

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....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | 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

 
Latest News

A novel synthetic antibody enables conditional “protein knockdown” in vertebrates

20.08.2018 | Life Sciences

Metamolds: Molding a mold

20.08.2018 | Information Technology

It’s All in the Mix: Jülich Researchers are Developing Fast-Charging Solid-State Batteries

20.08.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>