Researchers at Linköping University, Sweden, have developed stable high conductivity polymer ink. The advance paves the way for innovative printed electronics with high energy efficiency. The results were published in Communicating Nature.
Electric conducting polymers have enabled the development of flexible and lightweight electronic components such as organic biosensors, solar cells, light emitting diodes, transistors and batteries.
The electrical properties of the conducting polymers can be tuned using a method known as “doping.” In this method, various dopant molecules are added to the polymer to change its properties. Depending on the dopant, the doped polymer can conduct electricity by motion either negatively charged electrons (“n-type conductor”), or positive charged holes (“p-type conductor”). Today, the most widely used conductive polymer is the PEDOT: PSS type p conductor. PEDOT: PSS has several compelling features such as high electrical conductivity, excellent ambient stability, and most importantly, commercial availability as aqueous dispersion. However, many electronic devices require a combination of p-types and n-types to function. Currently, there is no n-type equivalent to PEDOT: PSS.
Researchers at Linköping University, along with colleagues in the US and South Korea, have now developed n-type, air-stable and high-temperature conductive polymer ink. This new polymer formulation is called BBL: PEI.
“This is a major development that makes the next generation of printed electronic devices possible. The lack of a suitable n-type polymer has been like walking on one leg when designing functional electronic devices. We can now provide the second leg,” he said Simone Fabiano, senior lecturer in the Department of Science and Technology at Linköping University.
Chi-Yuan Yang is a backpacker at Linköping University and one of the leading authors of the article published in Communicating Nature. He added:
“Everything possible with PEDOT: PSS is also possible with our new polymer. The combination of PEDOT: PSS and BBL: PEI opens up new possibilities for developing stable and efficient electronic circuits,” said Chi-Yuan Yang.
The new n-type material comes in the form of ink with ethanol as the solvent. The ink can be deposited by spraying the solution on a surface only, making organic electronic devices easier and cheaper to manufacture. Also, the ink is more eco-friendly than many other n-type organic conductors currently under development, which are a substitute for harmful solvents. Simone Fabiano believes the technology is ready for routine use.
“Large-scale production is already feasible, and we’re delighted to have come this far in a relatively short time. We expect BBL: PEI to have the same impact as PEDOT: PSS. At the same time, there’s a lot to ‘ w always adapt the ink to various technologies, and we need to learn more about the material, “said Simone Fabiano.
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