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New 'Electronic Glue' Promises Less Expensive Semiconductors

Date:
June 24, 2009
Source:
University of Chicago
Summary:
Researchers have developed an "electronic glue" that could accelerate advances in semiconductor-based technologies, including solar cells and thermoelectric devices that convert sun light and waste heat, respectively, into useful electrical energy.

Postdoctoral scholar Maksym Kovalenko (left) works with nanocrystals in a glovebox in the laboratory of Dmitri Talapin, assistant professor in chemistry at the University of Chicago. Working in the environmentally controlled conditions of the glovebox permits researchers to perform chemical procedures not possible under room conditions.
Credit: Dan Dry

Researchers at the University of Chicago and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have developed an "electronic glue" that could accelerate advances in semiconductor-based technologies, including solar cells and thermoelectric devices that convert sun light and waste heat, respectively, into useful electrical energy.

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Semiconductors have served as choice materials for many electronic and optical devices because of their physical properties. Commercial solar cells, computer chips and other semiconductor technologies typically use large semiconductor crystals. But that is expensive and can make large-scale applications such as rooftop solar-energy collectors prohibitive.

For those uses, engineers see great potential in semiconductor nanocrystals, sometimes just a few hundred atoms each. Nanocrystals can be readily mass-produced and used for device manufacturing via inkjet printing and other solution-based processes. But a problem remains: The crystals are unable to efficiently transfer their electric charges to one another due to surface ligands—bulky, insulating organic molecules that cap nanocrystals.

The "electronic glue" developed in Dmitri Talapin's laboratory at the University of Chicago solves the ligand problem. The team describes in the journal Science how substituting the insulating organic molecules with novel inorganic molecules dramatically increases the electronic coupling between nanocrystals. The University of Chicago licensed the underlying technology for thermoelectric applications to Evident Technologies in February.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Chicago. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Maksym V. Kovalendo et al. Colloidal Nanocrystals with Molecular Metal Chalcogenide Surface Ligands. Science, June 12, 2009

Cite This Page:

University of Chicago. "New 'Electronic Glue' Promises Less Expensive Semiconductors." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 June 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090611142400.htm>.
University of Chicago. (2009, June 24). New 'Electronic Glue' Promises Less Expensive Semiconductors. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090611142400.htm
University of Chicago. "New 'Electronic Glue' Promises Less Expensive Semiconductors." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090611142400.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

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