When researchers dream about electronics of the future, they more or less dream of pouring liquids into a beaker, stirring them together and decanting a computer out onto the table. This field of research is known as self-assembling molecular electronics. But, getting chemical substances to self-assemble into electronic components is just as complicated as it sounds. Now, a group of researchers has published their breakthrough within the field.
The secret behind the breakthrough is… Soap.
The group consists of first-year nanoscience students from the University of Copenhagen.
“This is a clear step forward towards self-assembling electronics. By mixing solutions of the right substances, we automatically built structures that in principle could have been solar cells or transistors. What is more, is that they were built in the same way that nature builds such things as cell membranes,” says Sørensen.
First year students on authors list
Sørensens co-authors are the entire first-year of University of Copenhagen nanoscience students. This impressive feat is the result of a restructuring of the nanoscience programme in 2010, from a programme structured upon research-based instruction, to one that uses teaching-based research. For their first assignment, the students were simply asked to design, conduct and analyse a range of experiments. The new instructional type has shed research results every year since. However, it wasn’t until 2013 that a result was ready to be published.
“For us as a university, the big news is obviously that first year students conducted the research. But, we achieved a very significant result in molecular electronics as well,” states Thomas Just Sørensen.
Electronics development turned up-side down
Electronics are normally produced in such a way that one “draws” components onto a silicon wafer and then removes all the bits that are not part of the electronic component. This is called “Top-down” production. Molecular electronics enables the production of transistors, resistors, LED screens, solar cells and so on, using chemistry-based methods. In principle, this means that electronics can become smaller, cheaper and more flexible, as well as environmentally sustainable. But whereas one can draw an integrated circuit on silicon, molecular components must self-organise into the correct structures. This is a major obstacle in the development of methods where molecules must join and self-organise in such a way that they can be found again, according to Sørensen.
“It doesn’t help to have a pile of transistors, if you don’t know which way they are turned. These cannot be combined in a way to make them work, and one won’t know which end to connect to electric current.”
Cosmetics ingredient made self-assembly possible
The secret behind the breakthrough is… Soap. The molecular components that make self-assembling electronics possible are antifungal agents used in various disinfectants, creams and cosmetics. These cleansers kill fungi by disrupting the structures of their cell membranes. This same ability can be used to create order among molecular components. Sørensen and his students experimented by pouring a flood of various soaps, dish-soaps and washing powders together with component-like chemical substances. The mixtures were then poured out onto glass plates in order to investigate whether or not the “components” were organised by the various cleansing agents. And now they have been, says Sørensen.
“Our self-assembling electronics are a bit like putting cake layers, custard and frosting in a blender and having it all pop out of the blender as a perfectly formed layer cake,” says Thomas Just Sørensen.
Just one step away from front page news
In the long term, these new discoveries open the door to developing powerful and economical solar energy facilities, as well as improved screen technologies. That being said, the molecules used in the nanoscience programme had no electronic functionality. “If they did, we would have been on the cover of Science instead of in a ChemNanoMat article,” says Just Sørensen. Regardless, he remains confident.
The Latest on: Self-assembling electronics
via Google News
The Latest on: Self-assembling electronics
- self-assembling roboton June 19, 2020 at 5:00 pm
Most of the electronics, including an Arduino Nano, a Bluetooth and a NRF24L01+ module, are densely mounted inside one end of the robot, while the other end can be used to add additional features ...
- Unlocking PNA's superpowers for self-assembling nanostructureson June 11, 2020 at 5:00 pm
Unlocking PNA's superpowers for self-assembling nanostructures Date: June 12, 2020 Source: College of Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University Summary: Researchers have developed a method for self ...
- College of Earth and Mineral Sciences newson June 9, 2020 at 5:00 pm
Penn State has redesigned its renewable energy and sustainability systems program, offered exclusively online through Penn State World Campus. https://news.psu.edu ...
- Power/Performance Bits: June 5on June 4, 2020 at 5:00 pm
Researchers at Cornell University developed a self-assembling battery capable of near-instant charging ... which they hope could greatly reduce the power demands of electronics. The team developed a ...
- Self-assembling, biomimetic composites possess unusual electrical propertieson June 4, 2020 at 1:17 pm
The researchers' goal is to create self-assembling materials with unprecedented control over their physical properties using synthetic biology. Because the polymer self-assembles into a cross ...
- Tiny, self-assembling traps capture dangerous pollutants, PFASon May 28, 2020 at 6:44 am
A study shows that self-assembling molecular traps can be used to capture PFAS -- dangerous pollutants that have contaminated drinking water supplies around the world. The traps are made from iron ...
- These tiny, self-assembling traps capture PFASon May 27, 2020 at 11:58 am
University at Buffalo chemists have shown that self-assembling molecular traps can be used to capture PFAS—dangerous pollutants that have contaminated drinking water supplies around the world.
- Conformable self-assembling amyloid protein coatings with genetically programmable functionalityon May 20, 2020 at 11:15 am
We envision that our coatings can drive advances in electronics, biocatalysis, particle engineering, and biomedicine. Surface modification of materials is an essential aspect of engineering and ...
- Conformable self-assembling amyloid protein coatingson May 19, 2020 at 5:00 pm
including electronic devices, enzyme immobilization, and microfluidic bacterial sensors. We envision that our coatings can drive advances in electronics, biocatalysis, particle engineering, and ...
- Better Batterieson April 25, 2020 at 2:27 am
The lack of efficient and dependable batteries limits the development of everything from electronics to hybrid vehicles. But new designs are offering better, safer alternatives. In theory ...
via Bing News