October 4, 2015

Scientists grow organic semiconductor crystals vertically for first time

In full bloom: A scanning electron microscopy image produced by Jessica Wang
of a vertical tetraanaline semiconductor crystal.

UCLA-led breakthrough could literally reshape solar cells and electronic devices

(October 4, 2015)  Our smartphones, tablets, computers and biosensors all have improved because of the rapidly increasing efficiency of semiconductors.

Since the turn of the 21st century, organic, or carbon-based, semiconductors have emerged as a major area of interest for scientists because they are inexpensive, plentiful and lightweight, and they can conduct current in ways comparable to inorganic semiconductors, which are made from metal-oxides or silicon.

Now, materials scientists from the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA have discovered a way to make organic semiconductors more powerful and more efficient.

Their breakthrough was in creating an improved structure for one type of organic semiconductor, a building block of a conductive polymer called tetraaniline. The scientists showed for the first time that tetraaniline crystals could be grown vertically.

The advance could eventually lead to vastly improved technology for capturing solar energy. In fact, it could literally reshape solar cells. Scientists could potentially create “light antennas” — thin, pole-like devices that could absorb light from all directions, which would be an improvement over today’s wide, flat panels that can only absorb light from one surface.