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Linköping University Researchers Pave the Way for Sustainable Organic Electronics

by Anna

Researchers at Linköping University, Sweden, have unveiled a groundbreaking method to produce conductive inks for use in organic electronics, offering a more environmentally friendly alternative. The findings, published in Nature Communications, mark a significant step towards sustainable technology, impacting applications like solar cells, artificial neurons, and soft sensors.

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Organic electronics, gaining prominence as complementary or replacement technology for traditional silicon-based electronics, possess advantages such as simple manufacturing, high flexibility, low weight, and electrical properties akin to conventional semiconductors. These properties make them suitable for various applications, including digital displays, energy storage, solar cells, sensors, and soft implants.

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However, the conventional processing of semiconducting plastics, known as conjugated polymers, involves the use of environmentally hazardous, toxic, and flammable solvents, posing challenges for widespread commercial and sustainable adoption.

The researchers at Linköping University have introduced a novel sustainable method for processing these polymers using water as a benign solvent. Not only does this approach address the environmental concerns associated with traditional methods, but it also yields highly conductive inks.

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

Testing the newly developed conductive ink as a transport layer in organic solar cells revealed higher stability and efficiency compared to traditional materials. The researchers further demonstrated the versatility of the ink by creating electrochemical transistors and artificial neurons, showcasing operating frequencies comparable to biological neurons.

Simone Fabiano, a Wallenberg Academy Fellow, envisions transformative impacts on the field of organic electronics. The ability to process organic semiconductors from sustainable solvents like water opens the door to mass-producing electronic devices with minimal environmental impact, marking a significant stride towards a more sustainable and eco-friendly future in electronics.

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