Engineers evoke cooperative behavior in a semiconductor

Researchers at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology have found a way to induce cooperative

behavior in organic semiconductors. This energy- and time-saving phenomenon has the potential to improve the performance of organic electronics, including smartwatches and solar panels.

Amazing Cooperative Behavior Mechanismespecially well manifested in viruses, scientists explain. For example, when a virus encounters E. coli, it clings to surfaces with the working end of its tubular tail. The proteins in the tail then contract in unison, smoothing out its structure like a stretched spring, and tightening the body of the virus.

Researchers for the first time managed to reproduce thiseffect in a semiconductor crystal. They found that the rearrangement of clusters of hydrogen and carbon atoms leaving the molecule's core, or alkyl chains, causes the molecular core to tilt, causing a series of crystal-wide changes that the researchers call an "avalanche."

Cooperative behavior in a semiconductor. Video: Daniel Davies

To change the slope of a chain of molecules,the researchers gradually heated the alkyl chain of the molecule. The rise in temperature caused a domino effect and caused the crystal to shrink, just like the tail of a virus before it was infected by the E. coli bacterium.

Researchers note that synchronous commandactions allow living systems to save time and energy: instead of a series of successive changes, one chain of connected actions occurs. Scientists believe that a similar approach will make it possible to create dynamic organic semiconductors with high performance and low energy consumption.

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