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Proto-Opto-Electro-Mechanical Hybrid Systems for Generation-Next Bionic Devices

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - PROGENY (Proto-Opto-Electro-Mechanical Hybrid Systems for Generation-Next Bionic Devices)

Reporting period: 2022-01-01 to 2022-12-31

Today, due to the changes in our lifestyle and common use of new technologies, a massive proliferation of electronic devices is observed. However, this new, unprecedented phenomenon poses environmental hazards created by the ever-growing amount of toxic electronic waste. The electronics industry must urgently introduce sustainable, environmentally friendly solutions. To that end, the EU-funded PROGENY project aims to design advanced, functional protonic materials to be used in revolutionary biomimetic devices and sensors branded as proto-opto-electro-mechanical systems (POEMS). The novelty design exploits natural, efficient and intrinsically sustainable bio mimetic systems, bringing a fundamental breakthrough in device and sensor innovation. In the TRL 3 phase, PROGENY aims to deliver and demonstrate the first electro/protonic hybrid device that can also host living cells.
The work carried out in the second reporting period towards the achievement of the specific objectives is summarized below:

PROGENY’s overarching Objective is to develop foundational Gen-I POEMS platforms enabling sustainable and biocompatible information technology, sensors & instruments, and to empower fundamental materials research in biological matter.

(1) MATERIALS: Synthesis of 1D and 2D electronic surfactants capable of providing both stability and advanced opto-electronic functions on soap film surfaces. Characterize and model developed set of surfactants using standard and custom experiments and theoretical tools, for surface activity, optical, electronic, and optoelectronic properties.
CNRS: 2nd batch of electronic surfactants have been synthesized and characterized and optimization is work in progress. Characterizations indicate that although the materials have good surface active properties and they lower surface tension significantly, there still lack foamability which is the ability to stabilize a soap film due to fast surface absorption of surfactants to form a monolayer. Furthermore, while the 1D molecules fail to form pi-stacked continuum monolayers at interfaces, the 2D materials have not reached targeted electronic transport values. We have identified contingency steps and have embarked on new design for a 3rd batch of 1D molecules, and for processing strategy for 2D molecules. We have also started working on interfacial graphene as a electronic material to be used in our soap film based devices.
TUD-IAPP: Charge transport measurements on the surfactants MW1 to MW8 indicate that those materials are not suitable for bulk organic field effect and electrochemical transistors. The impedance measurements indicate the presence of free ions whose source is unknown. A preliminary breakthrough has been obtained in potential device design using self-standing liquid polyelectrolyte film and organic electrodes emulating neural dendritic connections.
UBREM: Electronic properties and monolayer models at the water-vacuum interface have been generated for two new classes of electronic 1D surfactants. This is work is depending on the progress of other work packages. The electronic band structure of the monolayer 2D surfactant has been obtained and the electron-hole recombination dynamics has been investigated with non-adiabatic molecular dynamics simulations.
(2) FILM: Enable research in engineered stable soap films, by design and fabrication of custom R&D platforms. Stabilize a <5mm diameter soap film for >30days within a platform device. Characterize engineered soap films, for rheology and transport using experiments supported by theoretical interpretations.
CNRS: Standard characterizations for film with the 2nd batch of synthesized molecules are complete leading to design conclusions for optimized molecules synthesis (work in progress) to obtain the final successful material.
TUD-IAPP: We finished the frame of the R&D platform by depositing gold electrodes onto the frame from which the PEDOT electrodes are to be grown once thin liquid films can be stabilized. However, reflection interference contrast microscopy experiments showed that such large films could not be stabilized with the currently available surfactants.
WI: Project results related to surfactant and soap films were disseminated at the peer conference EUfoam 3-6 July 2022 Kraków, Poland. Two oral presentations and one poster generated enthusiasm from the surfactant community and new future collaborative possibilities particularly in the fields of neutron based characterizations, Multiphysics modelling, and in intelligent and adaptive foams. Networking resulted in induction of a new project advisor: Prof. Dr. Bjoern Braunschweig from the University of Munster.
(3) DEVICE: Design, fabrication, and characterization of demonstrator devices.
TUD-IAPP: We built an infrasound generator to study if the charge transport in PEDOT networks contained in liquid films is affected by acoustic excitations. The experiments showed that the current flow in some polymer networks changes in response to acoustic agitation. However, some networks did not show this effect. Further work is necessary to identify the causes of the variations. Once this work has been carried out successfully, an infrasound detector device can be built. (Potential project breakthrough)
UCHAL: Innovative microfluidic chips for controlling and doping soap films and have been designed, fabricated, and tested. An acoustic chamber for testing transport in oscillating soap films has been fabricated.
(4) PILOT: Eco-toxicological study of new materials and Engineering optimization with LCA of demonstrator devices for providing estimates of potential design improvements, new technological applications, and socio-environmental compatibility.
ECOIND: Ecotoxicology for first batch of molecules has been successfully conducted. We have concluded that the 1D electronic molecules are biodegradable.
ULEI: Foundation has been created for ex-ante LCA through partner workshop. Second online workshop on LCA has been successfully conducted with 42 participants. New post doc has joined the team and is conducting LCA survey working directly with partner institutes. A new manuscript of important socio-environmental relevance on “Sustainability assessment of cleanrooms under climate change and changing energy scenarios” has been submitted for review at Energy & Environmental Sciences (IF: 39).

(5) Project Outreach: WI: 114 applications from 23 countries on 3 continents were received in response to a worldwide competition for a large wall mural artistically communicating the Progeny theme. The winner of the competition was finalised. A 100 sqm mural wall has been selected in Sofia center (Bulgaria) and the task has been planned with the artists. Media will cover the event. Mural will be ready for public viewing by June 2023.
1. New surfactant class electronic molecules have been syntheized, characterized, and modelling is ongoing.
2. New R&D platform including associated microfluidic devices for testing, controlling the designed soap film characteristics and for their doping has been fabricated.
3. Brainstorming on new device designs based on RP1 knowledge has been documented and reported as deliverable.
4. A device preliminary breakthrough has been achieved using a liquid polyelectrolyte film and organic fiber electrodes.
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