A new study led by chemists at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign brings fresh insight into the development of semiconductor materials that can harness the power of chirality, a non-superimposable mirror image. Chirality is one of nature’s strategies to build complexity into structures, with chiral molecules funneling electricity very efficiently in nature. The study investigates how modifications to a non-chiral polymer can be used to form chiral helical structures in polymer-based semiconductor materials. Potential applications include solar cells, computers, and new imaging techniques. The study finds that it is critical to not overlook the complex mesophase structures formed to discover unknown phases that can lead to optical, electronic, and mechanical properties unimagined before. The Office of Naval Research, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Energy supported this research. The study findings are reported in the journal ACS Central Science.

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