Sustainable Chemistry – Spinning Water
Music, Ambience: amusement park ride
JM: You know the amusement park ride where you stand on the rim of giant wheel cage and get spun around really fast. Well that’s called centripetal acceleration, and
CK: It’s the same force we’re using to spread our ink out.
JM: I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. We’re in a lab at the University of Oregon with Chris Knutson, a PHD researcher in chemistry.
CK: We’re standing next to a spin coater it’s effectively a drill with a vacuum running through it so you can hold a flat piece of metal or silicon or glass to the drill so it doesn’t fly off when you start it spinning.
JM: The spin coater spreads an even coat of a special kind of electronic ink over a flat surface, one layer of ink at a time, to create a thin film device used in computer chips, monitors and all manner of electronics.
CK: So the kinds of atoms in a material or in a layer of these thin films devices play a large role in what kinds of properties especially electronic properties the materials will have. We’re working on generating metals right now which would allow electricity to pass freely and would allow us to make entire devices using nothing but water based inks.
JM: Typically, semi-conductors and other thin film devices are made in a vacuum which is costly and, in a way, like creating the conditions of deep space here on earth.
CK: We’re wondering why we don’t approach this problem more like we live on the surface of earth. On the surface of earth there’s quite a bit of water. Water is capable of doing a lot of amazing things and so we looked at putting active materials, these materials that can be used as insulators or semiconductors into water so that we could make these devices very, very repeatably and in an eco-conscious manner.
JM: Our thanks to the Center for Sustainable Materials Chemistry. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the NSF, I’m Jim Metzner