A new polymeric material that can be used in new age plastic electronics as well as plastic solar cells could result in greater cost-savings and open up new design options. A*STAR's IMRE has developed a new polymer that not only produces a high charge mobility of 0.2 cm2/V.s, which is the same value achieved by commercially available semiconducting materials but also has a high solar power conversion efficiency of 6.3%, as per Nanowerk News. This makes IMRE's polymer one of the few that has both these properties. In addition to this, polymers of the same class as IMRE's, which are those that use thiophene and benzothiadiazole as the building blocks, could only achieve 2.2% power conversion.
The polymer functions not only as a good material to make electronic components, but it can be used to convert sunlight to electricity efficiently. The polymer can also be easily applied in roll-to-roll printing techniques which is similar to how newspapers are currently printed making it possible to manufacture large area-scale printed electronics and organic solar cells quickly and cheaply. Manufacturers could save cost using just a single bulk resource for making both printed electronics and organic solar cells. The material could also possibly be used in designing new devices where both power harnessing and electronics are needed in a single component. An example of this would be chemical sensors based on organic thin-film transistors and powered by organic solar cells. The IMRE team is developing other organic materials-based polymers that can be scaled up to production and integrated easily into organic electronics. These materials can be used to make energy harvesting and low-power consumption devices like low-cost organic solar cells, new flexible display devices, next generation smart labels and RFID tags.