Theoretical screening finds improved organic semiconductor; solar potentials


CHEMISTS at Harvard and three other institutes have created a purified version of an organic semiconductor which could lead to new compounds used for solar panels.

Alán Aspuru-Guzik, associate professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard, worked with colleagues at Stanford University, Haverford College, and Clark University to identify, synthesize, and characterise the compound.

This work is based on the dinapthothienothiophene compound created by a team in Japan a few years ago. The researchers used computers to model several variations of the compound and screen them for improved electrical properties.

That process resulted in seven candidate compounds, from which they selected one. The compound was found to be a top-performer in its hole mobility, which is a measure of how quickly electrons move analogous to current in a metallic material.

This discovery can have implications for electronics. Organic semiconductors are currently used in thin film transistors and for extremely thin television screens. The process of theoretical screening used to create the compound could also be used as an example to find new materials for solar panels.

From a cost standpoint, organic semiconductors still cannot compete with the silicon typically used in photovoltaic panels. However, organic semiconductors have far more flexible applications.