Organic polymers find wide application in LEDs, sensors, solar cell, and other products. One particular type of polymers called ‘S-PPVs’ were theoretically regarded as promising but it was almost impossible to generate these polymers from a technical perspective.
After years of work, a group of researchers at TU Wien has successfully identified a new chemical synthesis process to produce S-PPVs, which has now been patented.
Sulfur (S-PPVs) over Oxygen (O-PPVs)
According to Florian Glöcklhofer from TU Wien’s Institute of Applied Synthetic Chemistry, PPVs are polymers with excellent technological properties. These polymers can interact with light and conduct electricity in such a way that they are of great interest for use in LEDs and solar cells.
S-PPVs possess a long, solid hydrocarbon structure to which some side groups are attached and by selecting different side groups, it is possible to develop desirable electrical properties of the material.
Currently, O-PPVs are used for such modification whose side groups are linked to rest of the polymer by an oxygen atom. If these oxygen side groups can be replaced by sulfur side groups, it will be possible to create a new polymer (S-PPVs) with significantly improved properties, Florian Glöcklhofer said. It could further lead to improvements in the transmission of electric current that will significantly better the overall stability of the polymer, he added.
Simple and Inexpensive Manufacturing Method
The researchers wanted to develop a synthesizing method that was both simple and cost-effective without the need for expensive catalysts and ultimately produce materials that can be used in commercial applications. Glöcklhofer said that S-PPVs can be only be commercially successful if the cost of production does not surpass a certain level.
Following four years of work, the researchers were successful in developing a reliable and straightforward method for S-PPVs production. Using microwave radiation, suitable monomers are manufactured which can be polymerized and the side group can then be further modified.
The new method has now been patented with the help of TU Wien’s Research and Transfer Group.
Glöcklhofer said that the synthesis uses low-cost base materials rather than expensive palladium catalysts and takes place within seconds. The new method is easily reproducible and can be scaled up for industrial quantities. Moreover, it delivers a product with improved stability and electrical properties. S-PPVs are also biocompatible and non-toxic, making them suitable for use in medical applications.