PHOENIX — Imagine being able to take your TV, roll it up and store it or paint solar cells on your roof, or wear gym clothes can monitor your health. With organic electronics, those possibilities are becoming realities.
Erin Ratcliff is an assistant professor at the University of Arizona’s department of Materials Science and Engineering. Ratcliff and her team was recently awarded $590,000 by the National Science Foundation to study organic semiconductors that could allow for a wide range of inventions.
“Conventional semiconductors are made out of what we call inorganic materials and so they’re assembled from atoms directly off the periodic table — silicon, for example,” she explained.
In contrast, organic semiconductors are made out of molecules instead of singular atoms.
“So what that means is that we can create electronic materials and electronic devices out of conductive plastics.”
Simply put, organic semiconductors can be crafted in a lab, are eco-friendly, are easier to make, cheaper to produce and could result in some new inventions.
“We can make flexible electronics,” she said. “You can think of these TVs that you’ve maybe seen that you can roll them up in a tube and put them in your backpack and take it with you and then open it back up.”
Organic semiconductors are already being used in various flat-screen televisions and cell phones. Ratcliff said, if you’ve purchased an OLED TV, you have organic semiconductors. Some Samsung Galaxy phones also have them.
But what about those solar paints or smart clothes? Before more advances can be made a better understanding of the lifespan of organic semiconductors needs to be studied. That’s where Ratcliff and her research team come in.
“We are looking at a fundamental challenge in that we want to use these organic molecules to do all sorts of new and amazing things,” she said. “So we’re looking at it from a chemical perspective but also from the functionality of our materials perspective. How are these materials breaking down? How are they coming apart? How do they stop working the way that we want them to?
“If we can answer these questions we can go back, we can design even more efficient materials to do even more amazing things.”
Right now, if the organic materials are contained inside of something like they are in TVs and phones, they can last years.
“But if you put these organic materials just out in air where they’re exposed to light, they get rained on and so forth then they don’t last nearly as long. We’re talking maybe hours.”
- 7 common ways to get sued by your employees
- Why it might be time to upgrade your toilet
- Arizona teachers are building a better future by using technology in the classroom
- How to make summer reading fun for the whole family
- How to find relief for chronic joint pain
- Can the NBA Lottery save the Suns?
- Skip Urgent Care: 5 ailments you can treat with telemedicine
- Skin Cancer in Arizona: Stats, facts and new immunotherapy drugs making strides
- Distracted walking injuries end up not so funny
- Scary situations: 5 quick tips before you let a contractor in your home
- Four ways telemedicine is changing the health care industry
- 5 mistakes homeowners make in the spring
- Three rivers run through it: Exploring Arizona's waterways
- Smart home basics: things you need to know to get started
- 5 Surprising things causing back pain
- Arizona agriculture is a $17.1B industry
- Timeline: Arizona's roots in brewing history
- 5 reasons to love the D-backs this season
- Tips for taking your home entertainment experience to the backyard
- Tech-related injuries your parents never experienced
- Workers comp: Signs your co-worker could be a fraud
- Who's the real founder of America's pastime?
- Epidemic rising? What you need to know about Alzheimer's in Arizona
- 5 unforgettable Wooden Award winners
- Family and hard work are keys to success of modern dairy farmers
- Genetic testing could hold answers for colon cancer survival
- Cold beers and baseball: A beer lover's guide to Spring Training
- Telecommuting: 5 tips to make it work for employers and employees
- See how top CFOs feel about economic growth in the Valley
- Migraine myths that keep patients from effective treatments
- University of Arizona looking to create dozens of ‘microcampuses’ around world
- Iconic Arizona mining museum set to reopen its doors
- Opinion: University of Arizona job designed to protect college snowflakes from words
- University of Arizona sees decline in applications from international students
- University of Arizona commencement to feature ex-NASA chief’s keynote address