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Plastic With Good Conductivity and Conversion Efficiency August 19, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Science.
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[This press release is so well written that I have hardly touched it—editor]

Singapore’s Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) has developed a new polymer that not only produces a high charge mobility of 0.2 cm2/V.s, which is the same value achieved by commercially available semiconducting materials (!!!) but also has a high solar power conversion efficiency of 6.3% (!!!). This makes IMRE’s polymer one of the few that has both these properties (!!!). In addition to this, polymers of the same class as IMRE’s, which are those that use thiophene and benzothiadiazole as the building blocks, could only achieve 2.2% power conversion (!!!).

“Current polymers are usually good in one aspect or another, either as a good conductor for use in electronics or endowed with high power conversion efficiency – but not both”, said IMRE Senior Scientist, Dr. Chen Zhi Kuan, the principal researcher working on these polymers. “IMRE’s polymer functions not only as a good material to make electronic components, the same material can be used to convert sunlight to electricity efficiently”. The polymer can also be easily applied in roll-to-roll printing techniques which is similar to how newspapers are currently printed making it possible to manufacture large area-scale printed electronics and organic solar cells quickly and cheaply.

With IMRE’s polymer, manufacturers could save cost using just a single bulk resource for making both printed electronics and organic solar cells. The material could also possibly be used in designing new devices where both power harnessing and electronics are needed in a single component. An example of this would be chemical sensors based on organic thin-film transistors and powered by organic solar cells.

“This breakthrough will help speed up the development of plastic electronics and organic solar cells, and make them more readily available in the marketplace,” said Prof Andy Hor, Executive Director of IMRE.

Printed electronics often rely on organic materials like polymers that can be easily processed and manufactured as opposed to traditional electronics (or metal electronics) which rely on inorganics such as copper or silicon. The polymers can be made into thinner, lighter and cost-effective electronic components and organic solar cells.

The research and results were recently published in Advanced Materials.

Provided by Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)

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