New twisted molecular wires are less toxic and have low resistance

Scientists in Japan have synthesized twisted molecular wires, one molecule thick, that can conduct electricity with less resistance than previous devices.

Organic conductors are carbon-based materials. Modern science has ensured that they can now conduct electricity. Compared to conventional silicon electronics, organic conductors are easier to synthesize and can be used to make molecular wires.

However, these structures suffer from reduced electrical conductivity, which prevents them from being used in popular mainstream gadgets. A group of researchers from the Institute of Scientific and Industrial Research and the Graduate School of Engineering Sciences at Osaka University has developed a new kind of molecular wire made from oligothiophene molecules with periodic twists that can conduct electric current with less resistance.

Molecular strands are made up of molecules several nanometers long, and also have alternating single and double chemical bonds. Orbitals that electrons can occupy around an atom or molecule can be localized or expanded in space. In this case, the pi-orbitals of individual atoms overlap, forming large “islands” between which electrons can jump.

Since electrons can most efficiently move between energetically close levels, fluctuations in the polymer chain can create energy barriers.

The charge mobility and the overall conductivity of the molecular wire can be improved if the charge mobility can be suppressed by such vibrations.

Yutaka Ie, first author of the study

The team found that, in general, creating smaller, energetically close islands maximizes conductivity. This research will help improve the conductivity of nanowires that can be used in a wide variety of electronic devices such as tablets or computers.

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