Biopolymers and electronic polymers integrated: From Alzheimer detection to white light sources and charge storage
Prof. Olle Inganäs, Linköpings Universitet, Sweden
The realm of biological polymers contribute the largest amount of polymers on earth, with a dominant contribution in plants. Information storage and functional devices are expressed in DNA, RNA and proteins; solar energy drives materials assembly through photosynthesis, delivering structural polymers such as cellulose and lignin, to form the canopy for solar energy conversion, and feed all forms of life. The ambition to combine biopolymers with conjugated polymers/molecules from organic electronics, at the molecular and at the materials level, has led to new means for detection of misfolded proteins and DNA hybridization, to protein based electronic devices, including white light sources and electrochemical wire transistors, to photovoltaic polymers with natural dyes as motif and to neural electrodes.
With the 10 % power conversion efficiency now attained with organic photovoltaics, and coming developments of low cost printed photovoltaics, a low cost carbon based solar photovoltaic economy is possible. The next problem to solve is that of storing electrical energy over days and weeks. A novel combination of electroactive biopolymers and conjugated polymers may offer a partial solution.