TIFR Hyderabad ‘powers’ new research

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Hyderabad: Researchers from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Hyderabad, have successfully tweaked low-cost semiconducting materials, similar to the composition of plastic, into conducting electricity more efficiently than before.

“While this new method holds promise for developing the next generation of solar cells, it can also improve the quality of display in mobile phones and high-definition television. Apart from these uses, this material may potentially become a game-changer in developing devices such as wearable electronics, biosensors, and bioelectronics,” they said.

According to the researchers, while silicon has been a widely used semiconductor material in modern-day solar cells, many research efforts have been directed towards experimenting with combinations of silicon with other materials to drive up the efficiency of a solar cell. Other endeavours include the use of novel materials that can be modified to convert sunlight into energy. One such class of materials that were being experimented with was similar to plastic, the researchers said in a press release on Monday.

Apart from increasing the efficiency of conventionally used semiconductors such as silicon, the research focused on exploring more cost-effective semiconductor materials. During the study led by Pabitra Nayak from TIFR, Hyderabad, researchers attempted to increase the conductivity of the plastic material with the help of two inexpensive and easily available chemicals: dimethyl sulphoxide (DMSO) and hydrobromic acid (HBr).

As a result of the chemical reactions in the semiconductor material, one of the by-products formed was water, making this reaction quite clean, they said. They observed that this new semiconductor device steadily conducts electricity even after prolonged operation at 100°C.

The researchers said they have demonstrated the use of this method in fabricating the state-of-the-art new generation solar cell, transistors, and light emitters. The components of the set-up were easily available and the cost of the material was 5,000 times less than the existing class of material used for the same purpose, the researchers said. The study has been published in the international peer-reviewed scientific journal Nature Materials.


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