New fullerene crystal production method 50 times faster than predecessor

December 15, 2020

Researchers from Yokohama National University and the University of Electro-Communications in Japan have developed a highly efficient technique for producing a unique fullerene crystal, called fullerene finned-micropillar (FFMP), that is of significant use for next-generation electronics.

Fullerene is a popular choice for developing technologies not only due to its small size, it is also very durable and contains semiconductor properties, making it a good candidate in devices such as field-effect transistors, solar cells, superconductive materials, and chemical sensors. The material is in use now, however, it is difficult to handle because fullerene is a nano-scaled and generally come in a powdery state. As a solution of this problem, one-dimensional fullerene crystals are produced and used.

"Producing one-dimensional fullerene crystals requires expert skills and takes several days with typical production methods. In this study, we succeeded in developing a very simple fabricating method by using an annealing process," said Dr. Takahide Oya, Associate Professor at Yokohama National University and corresponding author of the study.

In a paper published in Scientific Reports in November 2020 (DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-76252-6), the team details how they utilized a small heating apparatus that accepted fullerene and heated it to a temperature of 1,173 Kelvin for about an hour. The fullerene originally deposited in the heating apparatus de-crystallizes due to the heat and subsequently re-crystallizes as the temperature is lowered. This overall process, known as annealing, is over fifty times faster than the older technique for producing fullerene crystals.

"By using our method, mass production of one-dimensional fullerene crystals can be produced in an hour. The produced fullerene crystals that we named 'fullerene finned-micropillar (FFMP)' have a distinctive structure," said Oya.

The team is also confident that the fullerene crystals produced in this new, more efficient production process will have similar qualities to fullerene crystals such as fullerene nanowhiskers produced using the older methods.

"FFMP is expected to have electrical conductivity and n-type semiconductor functionality," Oya said.

More tests are required to confirm that FFMP does indeed retain the qualities so useful for electronic implementation, but positive results could mean solar cells with much higher efficiency, extremely small circuits integrated in flexible devices for example.

The team has already examined this annealing under different environmental conditions, temperatures, and heating time. Having studied the process, the team now has their sights set on characterizing the FFMP in the context of an electrical component. "As the next step of this study, confirming and obtaining the electrical conductivity and the n-type semiconductor functionality is expected, because the ordinary fullerene has such properties. In addition, developing 'fullerene-finned nano pillar (FFNP)' by modifying the process is also expected. We believe that FFMPs (or FFNPs) will be useful for field-effect transistors, organic photovoltaics, and so on in the near future," said Oya.

This will not be the first time Oya and his team have tackled special, small scale materials for use in electronics.

"We have already had a technique for making carbon nanotube, or CNT -- one dimensional nano-carbon material -- composite papers and CNT composite threads/textiles as unique CNT composite materials," said Oya. "Therefore, we will develop FFMP composite materials along with their applications. We believe the useful FFMP composites (and the combination with CNT composites) will be used in our daily life in near future."
Yokohama National University (YNU or Yokokoku) is a Japanese national university founded in 1949. YNU provides students with a practical education utilizing the wide expertise of its faculty and facilitates engagement with the global community. YNU's strength in the academic research of practical application sciences leads to high-impact publications and contributes to international scientific research and the global society. For more information, please see:

Yokohama National University

Related Solar Cells Articles from Brightsurf:

Solar cells of the future
Organic solar cells are cheaper to produce and more flexible than their counterparts made of crystalline silicon, but do not offer the same level of efficiency or stability.

A blast of gas for better solar cells
Treating silicon with carbon dioxide gas in plasma processing brings simplicity and control to a key step for making solar cells.

Record efficiency for printed solar cells
A new study reports the highest efficiency ever recorded for full roll-to-roll printed perovskite solar cells.

Next gen solar cells perform better when there's a camera around
A literal ''trick of the light'' can detect imperfections in next-gen solar cells, boosting their efficiency to match that of existing silicon-based versions, researchers have found.

On the trail of organic solar cells' efficiency
Scientists at TU Dresden and Hasselt University in Belgium investigated the physical causes that limit the efficiency of novel solar cells based on organic molecular materials.

Exciting tweaks for organic solar cells
A molecular tweak has improved organic solar cell performance, bringing us closer to cheaper, efficient, and more easily manufactured photovoltaics.

For cheaper solar cells, thinner really is better
Researchers at MIT and at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have outlined a pathway to slashing costs further, this time by slimming down the silicon cells themselves.

Flexible thinking on silicon solar cells
Combining silicon with a highly elastic polymer backing produces solar cells that have record-breaking stretchability and high efficiency.

Perovskite solar cells get an upgrade
Rice University materials scientists find inorganic compounds quench defects in perovskite-based solar cells and expand their tolerance of light, humidity and heat.

Can solar technology kill cancer cells?
Michigan State University scientists have revealed a new way to detect and attack cancer cells using technology traditionally reserved for solar power.

Read More: Solar Cells News and Solar Cells Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to