Molecular Electronics - Molecular Materials For Electronics

Molecular Materials For Electronics

Molecular materials for electronics is a term used to refer to bulk applications of conductive polymers. Conductive polymers or, more precisely, intrinsically conducting polymers (ICPs) are organic polymers that conduct electricity in their bulk state. Such compounds may have metallic conductivity or can be semiconductors. The biggest advantage of conductive polymers is their processability, mainly by dispersion. Conductive polymers are not plastics, i.e., they are not thermoformable, but they are organic polymers, like (insulating) polymers. They can offer high electrical conductivity but do not show mechanical properties as other commercially used polymers do. The electrical properties can be fine-tuned using the methods of organic synthesis and by advanced dispersion techniques.

The linear-backbone "polymer blacks" (polyacetylene, polypyrrole, and polyaniline) and their copolymers are the main class of conductive polymers. Historically, these are known as melanins. PPV and its soluble derivatives have similarly emerged as the prototypical electroluminescent semiconducting polymers. Today, poly(3-alkylthiophenes) are the archetypical materials for solar cells and transistors.

Conducting polymers have backbones of contiguous sp2 hybridized carbon centers. One valence electron on each center resides in a pz orbital, which is orthogonal to the other three sigma-bonds. The electrons in these delocalized orbitals have high mobility when the material is "doped" by oxidation, which removes some of these delocalized electrons. Thus the conjugated p-orbitals form a one-dimensional electronic band, and the electrons within this band become mobile when it is partially emptied. Despite intensive research, the relationship between morphology, chain structure and conductivity is poorly understood yet.

Due to their poor processability, conductive polymers enjoy few large-scale applications . They have some promise in antistatic materials and they have been incorporated into commercial displays and batteries, but there have had limitations due to the manufacturing costs, material inconsistencies, toxicity, poor solubility in solvents, and inability to directly melt process. Nevertheless, conducting polymers are rapidly gaining attraction in new applications with increasingly processable materials with better electrical and physical properties and lower costs. With the availability of stable and reproducible dispersions, PEDOT and polyaniline have gained some large scale applications. While PEDOT (poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene)) is mainly used in antistatic applications and as a transparent conductive layer in form of PEDOT:PSS dispersions (PSS=polystyrene sulfonic acid), polyaniline is widely used for printed circuit board manufacturing – in the final finish, for protecting copper from corrosion and preventing its solderability. The new nanostructured forms of conducting polymers particularly, provide fresh air to this field with their higher surface area and better dispersability.

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