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Modeling How Electric Charges Move

Date:
March 18, 2008
Source:
DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory
Summary:
Learning how to control the movement of electrons on the molecular and nanometer scales could help scientists devise small-scale circuits for many applications, including more efficient ways of storing and using solar energy. A theoretical chemist has been researching theoretical techniques used to understand the factors affecting electron movement.

Marshall Newton.
Credit: Image courtesy of DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory

Learning how to control the movement of electrons on the molecular and nanometer scales could help scientists devise small-scale circuits for many applications, including more efficient ways of storing and using solar energy. Marshall Newton, a theoretical chemist at Brookhaven Lab has been researching theoretical techniques used to understand the factors affecting electron movement.

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"Electron transfer plays a vital role in numerous biological processes, including nerve cell communication and converting energy from food into useful forms," says Newton. "It's the initial step in photosynthesis, as well, where charges are first separated and the energy is stored for later use - which is one of the concepts behind energy production using solar cells."

Newton will describe how combining electronic quantum mechanical theory with computational techniques has led to a unified, compact way to understand the nature of charge transfer in complex molecular aggregates.

"In essence," he explains, "the research has led to understanding electronic transport in terms of quantitative answers to a few basic mechanistic questions: namely, how far, how efficiently, and by which route (or molecular 'pathway') a charge moves from a 'donor' to an 'acceptor' in the molecular assembly." The answers come from detailed molecular quantum calculations of the energy gaps separating the relevant electronic states, and the strength of coupling between adjacent molecular units along the "pathways."

"This new approach may yield ways to predict and control electronic transport behavior by 'tuning' the molecular components, resulting in capabilities that can be used to design new solar-based energy schemes," Newton said.

This research was presented at The March 2008 American Physical Society Meeting in New Orleans, La., March 10 -14.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory. "Modeling How Electric Charges Move." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 March 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080313203209.htm>.
DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory. (2008, March 18). Modeling How Electric Charges Move. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080313203209.htm
DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory. "Modeling How Electric Charges Move." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080313203209.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

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