Wednesday, 15 July 2020 11:21

New organic materials ‘unlock’ faster, more flexible mobiles, electronic devices, say researchers

By
ANU researchers Associate Professor Larry Lu and Dr Ankur Sharma ANU researchers Associate Professor Larry Lu and Dr Ankur Sharma

Mobile phones and other electronic devices made from an organic material that is thin, bendable and more powerful are now a step closer, according to researchers at the Australian National University (ANU).

The ANU researchers, led by Dr Ankur Sharma and Associate Professor Larry Lu say the research would help create the next generation of ultra-fast electronic chips, “which promise to be much faster than current electronic chips we use”.

“Conventional devices run on electricity – but this material allows us to use light or photons, which travels much faster,” Dr Sharma said.

“The interesting properties we have observed in this material make it a contender for super-fast electronic processors and chips.

“We now have the perfect building block, to achieve flexible next generation electronics.”

Associate Professor Lu said they observed “interesting functions and capabilities in their organic material, previously unseen”.

“The capabilities we observed in this material that can help us achieve ultra-fast electronic devices,” Associate Professor Lu said.

The team say they were able to control the growth of a “novel organic semiconductor material - stacking one molecule precisely over the other”.

“The material is just one carbon atom thick, a hundred times thinner than a human hair, which gives it the flexibility to be bent into any shape. This will lead to its application in flexible electronic devices," Associate Professor Lu said.

In 2018 the same team developed a material that combined both organic and inorganic elements and the ANU says now, they’ve been able to improve the organic part of the material, allowing them to completely remove the inorganic component.

“It’s made from just carbon and hydrogen, which would mean devices can be biodegradable or easily recyclable, thus avoiding the tonnes of e-waste generated by current generation electronic devices,” Dr Sharma said, noting that ”while the actual devices might still be some way off, this new study is an important next step, and a key demonstration of this new material’s immense capabilities”.

The research has been published in the journal Nature: Light Science & Applications.


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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