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Old 23rd April 2012, 10:30 AM
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Default TV as Thin as a Sheet of Paper? Printable Flexible Electronics

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ScienceDaily (Apr. 19, 2012) — Imagine owning a television with the thickness and weight of a sheet of paper. It will be possible, someday, thanks to the growing industry of printed electronics. The process, which allows manufacturers to literally print or roll materials onto surfaces to produce an electronically functional device, is already used in organic solar cells and organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) that form the displays of cellphones.
Although this emerging technology is expected to grow by tens of billions of dollars over the next 10 years, one challenge is in manufacturing at low cost in ambient conditions. In order to create light or energy by injecting or collecting electrons, printed electronics require conductors, usually calcium, magnesium or lithium, with a low-work function. These metals are chemically very reactive. They oxidize and stop working if exposed to oxygen and moisture. This is why electronics in solar cells and TVs, for example, must be covered with a rigid, thick barrier such as glass or expensive encapsulation layers.
However, in new findings published in the journal Science, Georgia Tech researchers have introduced what appears to be a universal technique to reduce the work function of a conductor. They spread a very thin layer of a polymer, approximately one to 10 nanometers thick, on the conductor's surface to create a strong surface dipole. The interaction turns air-stable conductors into efficient, low-work function electrodes.
The commercially available polymers can be easily processed from dilute solutions in solvents such as water and methoxyethanol.
"These polymers are inexpensive, environmentally friendly and compatible with existent roll-to-roll mass production techniques," said Bernard Kippelen, director of Georgia Tech's Center for Organic Photonics and Electronics (COPE). "Replacing the reactive metals with stable conductors, including conducting polymers, completely changes the requirements of how electronics are manufactured and protected. Their use can pave the way for lower cost and more flexible devices."
To illustrate the new method, Kippelen and his peers evaluated the polymers' performance in organic thin-film transistors and OLEDs. They've also built a prototype: the first-ever, completely plastic solar cell.
"The polymer modifier reduces the work function in a wide range of conductors, including silver, gold and aluminum," noted Seth Marder, associate director of COPE and professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry. "The process is also effective in transparent metal-oxides and graphene."
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0419143123.htm

ABSRACT ONLY:-

Zhou, Y., C. Fuentes-Hernandez, et al. (2012). "A Universal Method to Produce Low–Work Function Electrodes for Organic Electronics." Science 336(6079): 327-332.
Quote:
Organic and printed electronics technologies require conductors with a work function that is sufficiently low to facilitate the transport of electrons in and out of various optoelectronic devices. We show that surface modifiers based on polymers containing simple aliphatic amine groups substantially reduce the work function of conductors including metals, transparent conductive metal oxides, conducting polymers, and graphene. The reduction arises from physisorption of the neutral polymer, which turns the modified conductors into efficient electron-selective electrodes in organic optoelectronic devices. These polymer surface modifiers are processed in air from solution, providing an appealing alternative to chemically reactive low–work function metals. Their use can pave the way to simplified manufacturing of low-cost and large-area organic electronic technologies.
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/336/6079/327
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