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Scientists Bend Organic Semiconductor To Boost Energy Flow

Rutgers University

According to a new paper by engineers from Rutgers University in New Jersey, slightly bending organic semiconductors could help to increase the flow of energy through devices. The research team determined that semiconductors constructed from organic material can enjoy a flow of electricity approximately twice the speed of that from an unbent semiconductor of the same material. Rutgers engineers believe this new revelation could help develop more advanced next-generation electronics, including solar cells and sensors.

“If implemented in electrical circuits, such an enhancement – achieved by very slight bending – would mean a major leap toward realizing next-generation, high-performance organic electronics.”

Vitaly Podzorov, a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University–New Brunswick and senior author on the paper

Scientists have long known that the conductivity of semiconductors can be altered based on changing the external stimuli — and organic semiconductors have the potential to push the limits of what we’ve traditionally known about these essential electronic components. Unlike traditional semiconductors, organic ones are primarily made up of carbon and hydrogen atoms. These organic molecules help form a type of flexible, lightweight crystal known as van der Waals molecular crystal. Organic semiconductors have a distinct advantage over their traditional counterparts, which can be costly to fabricate and rigidly designed, not offering the flexibility or versatility of the new type.

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And when it comes to speed, the slightly bent organic semiconductors are in a class by themselves. Already, organic semiconductors have 10 times the speed of traditional conductors. Strain engineering has been suggested as a new method of tuning semiconductors by bending them, but there have been no conclusive reports on the effectiveness of this technique — until now, that is.

Now, armed with this new information, Rutgers engineers are convinced that the future of faster, more powerful organic semiconductors lies in strain engineering. The study they performed determined that even a 1 percent bend, when applied to an organic transistor, could result in doubling the speed of the electrons moving through the device.

The Rutgers research team intends to continue their investigation into organic semiconductors and the potential power advantages that come from strain engineering. Their research, in conjunction with experts from Gyeongsang National University in Korea, the University of Tokyo, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Pohang University of Science and Technology in Korea, was published in the Journal of Advanced Science.

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