|Posted on November 19, 2015 at 8:10 PM|
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S produced over three million tons of electronic waste in 2013. Although about 40% of this waste is recycled, a significant amount remains in landfills. Since electronic components are generally non-biodegradable, these wastes will stay on earth, literally forever.
This issue and the increasing demand for electronics, means that developing biodegradable electronic components is important. To tackle this challenge, Suchismita Guha, a professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Missouri, recently developed biodegradable light-emitting nanostructures (LEDs) that could be used as the active layer in screens. LEDs consist of a light-emitting active layer located between two electrodes. Conjugated fluoropolymers, popular ingredients for the active layer in organic LEDs, are difficult to break down. Guha and her research group proposed self-assembled peptide-polyfluorene nanocomposites as a scaffold material for blue-emitting fluoropolymers. When the research team immersed the hybrid nanostructures in an enzyme, they found that the material was ble to degrade by 80% more than the pure fluoropolymers. Because the fluoropolymers are the sources of light emission, they cannot be removed from the light-emitting devices; but by transforming them into nanocomposite material with peptide-polyfluorene, Guha and her team showed that the component can become biodegradable. The efficiency of the nanocomposite-fluoropolymers is lower than that of the regular fluoropolymers, but Guha hopes to improve the efficiency by improving the alignment of the nanostructures. There are much more work needed to be done to make commercially viable biodegradable LEDs but her work makes an important step forward to make that happen. Details of this work were published as an inside cover article in Advanced Materials Interfaces in August 2015.
Prof. Guha's research focuses on investigating charge transport mechanisms in polymeric semiconductors, developing organic field-effect transistors and photodetectors, and studying photophysics of conjugated polymers using light scattering techniques. Her research group is also looking into the development of peptide nanostructure-based electronic materials. Prof. Guha has co-authored over 95 publications in these fields of study.
- Written by Eugene Choi, Edited by Paulette Clancy
(Photo credit: Provided by and used with permission from Suchi Guha).