Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ORZEL (Boosting the scientific excellence and innovation capacity in organic electronics of the Silesian University of Technology)
Reporting period: 2017-05-01 to 2019-01-31
The field of organic electronics comprises several areas of materials science concerned with utilising carbon-based materials for conductivity. While organic conductive compounds were first discovered in 1862, these materials have had several breakthroughs in the past few decades. In 2000, Alan J. Heeger, Alan G. MacDiarmid, and Hideki Shirakawa were awarded the Nobel Prize for their work on conductive polymers during the 1970s, and in the late 1980s, research at Kodak on organic diodes paved the way for further research on organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs).
In the ensuing years, research on organic electronics has deepened. Novel materials that feature photo- and electroluminescent properties contribute to electroluminescent diodes, displays and photovoltaic cells. Organic materials can already be encountered in prototypical, and commercial, chemical sensors, photovoltaic cells and AMOLED display devices. Their major advantage is the possibility to tailor their properties, including the colour of emitted light, by modifying their molecular structure. Conjugated organic molecules can be simultaneously tested for use as active materials in solar cells and OLEDs. The first group of such conjugated compounds which gave a photovoltaic response also functioned as OLEDs. This is due to the fact that they have similar photophysics: fluorescence, charge occurrence, exciton formation by charge injection and photoexcitation.
Applications of organic electronics have been developed not only to answer crucial scientific questions but also to provide affordable energy and lighting solutions to industry and consumers. In the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), research on organic electronics was supported with a budget of €63 million and twenty projects were funded. For example, the goal of the Coordination Action OPERA was “to strengthen the position of Europe as a leading force in organic electronics in the world.” Moreover, at least ten other cooperative projects focusing on R&D for organic electronics were funded.
One of the greatest potential benefits of organic electronics is their ability to replace costly inorganic conductors in a variety of applications. While there are still several technical challenges to overcome, current research aims to make them more affordable. Moreover, the use of organic conductive materials would allow industry to use fewer rare earth metals and minerals, thereby offering a positive environmental impact.
From a non-scientific standpoint, the project’s new discoveries have a direct societal impact. As more organic electronics are used in future electronic devices, these project discoveries can be employed in future technologies, potentially creating cheaper and more environmentally friendly market products.