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Innovative method for the sustainable creation of organic semiconductors.

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Researchers at Linköping University, Sweden, have developed a new, more environmentally friendly method for creating conductive inks for use in organic electronics such as solar cells, artificial neurons and soft sensors . The results, published in the journal Nature Communications, pave the way for future sustainable technologies.

Organic electronics are booming as a complement to, and in some cases a replacement for, traditional silicon-based electronics. With its simple manufacturing, high flexibility and low weight, combined with the electrical properties typically associated with traditional semiconductors, it can be useful for applications such as digital displays, energy storage, solar cells, sensors and flexible implants.

Organic electronics are built from semiconductor plastics, called conjugated polymers. However, processing conjugated polymers often requires environmentally hazardous, toxic and flammable solvents. This is a major barrier to the large-scale commercial and sustainable use of organic electronics.

Now, researchers at Linköping University have developed a new sustainable method to process these polymers from water. In addition to being more durable, the new inks are also highly conductive.

“Our research introduces a new approach to processing conjugated polymers using harmless solvents such as water. With this method, called ground state electron transfer, we not only solve the problem of using hazardous chemicals, but we can also demonstrate improvements in material properties and device performance,” explains Simone Fabiano, senior associate professor at the Organic Electronics Laboratory. .

When researchers tested Using the new conductive ink as a transport layer in organic solar cells, they found that the stability and efficiency were higher than those of traditional materials. They also tested the ink to create electrochemical transistors and artificial neurons, demonstrating operating frequencies similar to those of biological neurons.

“I believe these results can have a transformative impact on the field of organic electronics. By enabling the processing of organic semiconductors using green and sustainable solvents like water, we can mass produce electronic devices with minimal impact on the environment,” says Wallenberg Academy member Simone Fabiano.

The research was funded by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, the Wallenberg Initiative Materials Science for Sustainability (WISE), the Wallenberg Wood Science Center (WWSC), the Swedish Research Council, Vinnova, the European Commission and Strategic Investment of the Swedish government in new functional materials (AFM) at Linköping University.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-023-44153-7



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