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Nanomechanics of materials used in flexible electronics

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Organic semiconductors are multifunctional soft electronic materials that play an impactful role in the flexible electronics industry. Their use spans printed electronic circuits, large area displays, flexible solar energy harvesters, and implantable bioelectronics. For their competitive optical, electronic, thermoelectric, and spin-based properties, these soft electronic materials continue to attract significant academic engagement, seeding new technologies for the future. [1, 2, 3] Although macroscopic flexibility on the centimetre to metre scale has been a unique selling point for organic semiconductor technology, not much is known about their mechanical properties on the nanoscale. Quantification of these nanomechanical properties together with demonstrations of nanoscale stiffness tunability and nanoscale homogenisation hold significant potential for both fundamental and applied science. [4, 5]

During the last decade, the development of high precision atomic force microscopes has made it possible to quantify the mechanical properties of organic polymers on the scale of a few polymer chains. In addition, techniques such as higher eigen mode imaging make it possible to visualise molecular ordering on the nanoscale under ambient conditions with relative ease. These techniques allow one to draw a correlation between molecular ordering and the stiffness that such ordering manifests.

In this talk, the science and technology of precision nanoscale measurement of mechanics will be spotlight. The interrelation between molecular organisation and nanomechanical properties in high-performance polymers used for organic electronics will be shown. [6, 7] A quantification of differences in strain within organic nanocrystal polymorphs will also be demonstrated. The measurement techniques demonstrated in this talk are extendable to a wide variety of multifunctional materials with a broad range of elastic properties and have significant use in both academia and industry.

About the speaker

Dr Deepak Venkateshvaran is a Royal Society University Research Fellow at the Cavendish Laboratory of the University of Cambridge. He conducts research on organic semiconductor nanomechanics, the fabrication and characterisation of micro/nanoscale devices, and the development of novel measurement techniques. Deepak is also a Fellow and Director of Studies in Physics at Selwyn College in Cambridge. \
[1] D. Venkateshvaran, M. Nikolka et al., Nature 515, 384–388 (2014)

[2] S. J. Wang, D. Venkateshvaran et al., Nature Electronics 2, 98–107 (2019)

[3] P. Skalski, O. Zadvorna et al., Physical Review Materials 6, 024601 (2021)

[4] L. Ouyang, C.-c. Kuo et al., J. Mater. Chem. B 3 , 5010 (2015)

[5] C. D. Gerardo et al., Microsystems and Nanoengineering 4, 19 (2018)

[6] V. Panchal, I. Dobryden … D. Venkateshvaran, Advanced Electronic Materials 8, 2101019 (2022)

[7] I. Dobryden, V. V. Korolkov … D. Venkateshvaran, Nature Communications 13, 3076 (2022)

This talk is part of the CAPE Advanced Technology Lecture Series series.

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