Although silicon has been at the core of electronics since the 1950s, it has become more expensive and less ecologically viable for use. In recent years, there has been a big push towards developing organic alternatives to silicon with some success. Organic Light Emitting Diodes, for example, are found in most smart phone displays. Inexpensive solar cells and ultra-efficient indoor lighting, with the associated smaller carbon footprint and lower electric bills, could be in the future as well. Organic alternatives for electronic devices are not only more ecologically sound, but cheaper to produce as well.
Such devices haven’t stormed the market yet, but that’s because this technology is still new, and we’re still figuring out how it works and what to do with it. Recently though, researchers at the University of Cologne, in conjunction with Jilin University in China, and the University of Nottingham have made some interesting breakthroughs.
Using a design based on organic molecules, researchers created a system in which the built in electric field creates a well to protect charge carriers. The result was a device which kept a light generated charge alive for roughly 10,000 times longer than previously possible.
The research is still very new, but it has some amazing potential. If technology like this could be further developed, and if it could be made to work at larger scales, it could change the way we think about electricity. Solar powered devices would be able to function for much longer, and with greater efficiency than they do at the moment. Solar panels wouldn’t even have to be made that much more efficient, if the amount of light they capture and convert into electricity can be stretched further. Electric cars could far outperform traditional combustion engines. Even cell phones and computers could be more useful.