De Montfort University Shows the Benefits of Gold Nanoparticles for Organic Electronics

Medicine bottles that alert you when a prescription needs updating and computer screens which can be rolled up to fit in a briefcase are a step closer thanks to research by De Montfort University (DMU).
Researchers at DMU’s Emerging Technologies Research Centre (EMTERC) are exploring the potential of gold nanoparticles and small molecules to create memory chips that are so flexible they can be used in paper and clothing.
Tests at DMU have shown nanoparticles can be charged by an electric field and retain that charge when the field is taken away. This allows information to be stored in the form of charged and uncharged particles.
Nanoparticles are part of the growing research area of organic electronics which, unlike traditional electronics, uses carbon-based materials.
Organic electronics can be:
  • Produced at low-cost
  • Can be made in room temperature conditions
  • Can be bonded to flexible materials known as substrates, such as paper and very thin plastic. This makes them more robust and cable of being applied to foldable/rollable items, such as clothing.
Dr Shashi Paul, Head of EMTERC, led the research, which was funded by $314 thousand (£207,000) from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).  He explained the benefits of gold nanoparticles and how their use could be an essential step towards the mainstream adoption of organic electronics.
  • Organic electronics are commercially available and do not oxidise or rust, unlike other nanoparticles which have been tested, such as iron.
  • Conventional electronics have manufacturing processes that are extremely energy intensive and therefore expensive.
  • Organic materials can be processed at room temperature and require considerably less energy in manufacturing.
  • They can be used with cheap and flexible plastic substrates, which would melt in conventional silicon, high-temperature processing steps.
 A paper on the research has been published in the Virtual Journal of Nanoscale Science and Technology, as well as Applied Physics Letters. Entitled ‘First Contact-Charging Phenomena in Gold Nanoparticles by Electrostatic Force Microscopy’, it looks at the electronic charging phenomena in gold nanoparticles.
EMTERC at DMU was set up in 1995 to carry out fundamental and applied research in microelectronics, including nanotechnology. They carry out internationally-leading research and teaching at the forefront of micro and nano electronics. The multidisciplinary team has expertise in materials, devices, circuitry and reliability.

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