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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/C015401/1
Title: Electronic properties and device physics of functional polymer nanostructures
Principal Investigator: Friend, Professor Sir R
Other Investigators:
Greenham, Professor N Huck, Professor W Sirringhaus, Professor H
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Physics
Organisation: University of Cambridge
Scheme: Standard Research (Pre-FEC)
Starts: 01 October 2005 Ends: 31 March 2009 Value (£): 3,007,274
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Materials Characterisation Materials Processing
Materials Synthesis & Growth
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
29 Apr 2005 Visitng Panel (Prof Friend) Deferred
Summary on Grant Application Form
Over the last 15 years the field of conjugated polymer semiconductors has developed rapidly from fundamental laboratory discovery into a significant materials and manufacturing technology for a range of thin-film electronics applications which benefit from the compatibility of polymers with large-area, low-cost, room-temperature solution processing and direct-write printing. These applications include emissive light-emitting diode flat panel displays, and low-cost thin film transistor circuits on flexible substrates. Recently, it has become clear that some of the general methodologies of polymer electronics, which have been so successfully applied for developing conventional, thin-film electronic devices, might also open up a new pathway to bottom-up fabrication of functional nanostructures and devices. It is our vision that the combination of solution self-assembly of synthetically controlled polymer molecules to produce structurally well defined nanostructures with direct-write printing for high-resolution patterning, and interfacing of such nanoscale structures to the outside world is going to provide a powerful new, bottom-up approach to nanotechnology. Apart from the obvious need to improve on our ability to control molecular assembly, and the need to further develop high-resolution printing techniques, one of the major hurdles to achieve this vision is the need for a much improved understanding of the microscopic, quantum-mechanical excitations and physical processes in polymer semiconductors in the bulk and particularly at interfaces. Such molecular-scale understanding will be needed to design nanoscale devices, and to interpret the outcome of optical and electrical measurement on such structures. Our understanding of important issues, such as the quantum-mechanical states involved in electron-hole recombination at a heterointerface, the effect of intermolecular interactions on neutral and charged excitations in well defined polymer assemblies, or the nature of electronic defects is still much less developed than it is the case in inorganic semiconductors. The objective of the present proposal is to develop a new solution-based, bottom-up approach to nanoscale electronic and optoelectronic devices that exhibit much improved performance and novel properties and functionalities that cannot be realized with current thin-film electronic structures. This will be achieved through a coordinated, interdisciplinary approach which aims to (a) improve the capability for controlled definition and characterization of polymer nanostructures and heterointerfaces through controlled synthetic design, and solution self-assembly, (b) to develop bottom-up high-resolution printing techniques capable of electrically addressing such nanostructures, (c) most importantly, to acquire a deep microscopic understanding of the fundamental excitations and physical processes in such nanostructures , and (d) to use such understanding to design novel nanoscale devices and interpret their device characteristics. The latter will reflect the properties not so much of individual molecules, but of well-defined 3-dimensional assemblies of a small number of molecules. Now is the right time to pursue this very ambitious research direction more seriously than in the past. Polymer electronics is now sure to establish itself as an important thin film electronic technology, and it is important to focus on the fundamental materials, process and device technology for future applications that will require different functionalities and significantly enhanced performance. Based on the methodologies developed over the last 15 years, together with recent breakthroughs we believe that the state-of-the-art has sufficiently advanced to achieve the above ambitious goals within the next 3-5 years.
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