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Molecular footballs may revolutionise electronics


London, June 23 :

In the 2018 World Cup in Russia, football-shaped molecules could change your experience of watching a match for the better as the new molecular electronic components could lead to highly efficient and low power-consuming devices.

Scientists have reported a new method that takes the concept of amphiphilic assembly one step further, and applies it to a completely new set of hydrophobic molecules, with no water-loving part to them.football molecule

These new “hydrophobic amphiphiles” still have different ‘parts’, but the assembly process relies on more subtle interactions.

The research was carried out by an international team of researchers led by Martin Hollamby from Keele University, Britain and Takashi Nakanishi from National Institute for Materials Science, Japan.

Together they showed that hydrophobic amphiphiles – molecules with two ends – can still assemble into extended structures in much the same way as conventional amphiphiles (such as detergent molecules).

One area that could be significantly impacted by this discovery is the field of ‘molecular electronics’.

These carbon-based electronics could provide a cheaper alternative to traditional silicon technology and allow for flexible hand held devices for many functions, including smartphones and tablets for watching TV.

One example is a molecule shaped like a football but with a long tail.

The amphiphile has been tailor made from ‘bucky balls’ – football-shaped molecules made up of 60 carbon atoms (C60) which are chemically modified by attaching a much longer ‘tail’ made up of chains of carbon atoms.

“Changing the chemistry of the chains can even lead to gels made of bundled C60 wires that have a measurable photoconductivity,” Hollamby said.

A great variety of different structures can be produced just by making small changes to the chemical structure and the additives (solvent or C60) used.

The new molecular electronic components could result in higher efficiency and lower power consumption simply by optimising how the molecules interact with each other.