The properties of mesophase materials are being studied at the Molecular Electronics Laboratory of South Ural State University. The researchers are composing an element base, which will help in the creation of instruments of the electronics of the future, and are developing new principles of materials characterization.
What successes have the staff members of the Molecular Electronics Laboratory achieved, and what task have they set before themselves, shares the Head of the laboratory, Candidate of Sciences (Physics and Mathematics), Associate Professor Fedor Podgornov.
– Could you please explain to us what molecular electronics is?
– Molecular electronics is a combination of electronics, physics and chemistry, which considers the electronic properties of separate molecules. These are the analogues of diodes, transistors, and inductor coils in electronics. That is why molecular electronics through studying the molecules of organic and inorganic substances allows to create high-capacity subminiature microchips, devices of flexible electronics, bioelectronics, and much more. This is one of the main demands of Industry 4.0.
–What does the Molecular Electronics International Laboratory work on?
– At our laboratory we are dealing with electrical characterization of mesophase materials of high symmetry and are developing new methods of this process. This is a big and complex work, which allows to reveal and characterize properties of materials, as well as to create an element base of the electronics of the future. One of the main directions of our activity is the studying of the properties of liquid crystals, which is a special class of materials with unique physical properties.
Photo: Fedor Podgornov, Head of the Molecular Electronics Laboratory, Candidate of Sciences (Physics and Mathematics), Associate Professor
– Which results of the laboratory's work deserve a special mention?
– We have engineered liquid-crystals based solar cells, and are actively developing a new method of nonlinear dielectric spectroscopy. This is an experimental method of characterization of electrochemical systems. Recently, we have published an article on the new method of resistance of materials. Basically, it means that the measurements are taken when the material under study is part of a heterogeneous system. Also, we're currently preparing a publication on nonlinear impedance spectroscopy of liquid crystals. This research will demonstrate how it is possible to trace the dynamics of switching of liquid crystals in electric field by using the nonlinear properties of the system under study. The thing is that the "response" of the substance to the interaction with it is always nonlinear, and that is related to the structure of the material and the intermolecular interactions. We're interested in learning what happens on the molecular level, investigating the process of the molecular motion of the external electric field, and studying the parameters of the motion of molecules and ions in liquid crystals. On the other hand, by using this method we get an opportunity to unambiguously describe the equivalent electric circuit of the material, and based on that, to predict the characteristics and outline the field of application.
Molecular Electronics Laboratory features state-of-the-art equipment
– Where can the laboratory's research results be used?
– The field of application of our research results is wide. Here we talk about optoelectronics (for instance, spatial light modulators), and systems of information presentation (displays), and systems of information processing (quantum computer)|. By studying organic materials, we also delve into bioelectronics, which aims at replacing inorganic materials with biological ones and using these in medicine. Another fascinating field is edible electronics. Radio tags, which are harmless for body, are placed into food products, then are traced and allow for automatic calculations.
Studying the properties of liquid crystals is one of the main fields of the laboratory's activity
– Who does the Molecular Electronics Laboratory collaborate with?
– The laboratory staff actively collaborates with the Multiscale Modelling of Multicomponent Functional Materials Laboratory (SUSU) and with the Laboratory of Magnetic Oxide Materials (SUSU). Currently, we're planning our further activity with groups of scientists from Ireland and the United States of America. We also have an international environment at our laboratory: a postgraduate from Iraq, Ahmed Karaawi, is working with us.
– What will the future research studies by the laboratory staff focus on?
– Our main goal is to develop our method of nonlinear impedance spectroscopy for characterization and identification of the mechanisms of electrical conductivity in molecular circuits.
SUSU is a participant of Project 5-100 aimed at enhancing the competitiveness of Russian universities among the world's leading scientific and educational centres.