Modeling How Electric Charges Move

Mar 13, 2008

Learning how to control the movement of electrons on the molecular and nanometer scales could help scientists devise small-scale circuits for many applications, including more efficient ways of storing and using solar energy. Marshall Newton, a theoretical chemist at Brookhaven Lab, presents a talk highlighting the theoretical techniques used to understand the factors affecting electron movement at the American Physical Society meeting.

"Electron transfer plays a vital role in numerous biological processes, including nerve cell communication and converting energy from food into useful forms," says Newton. "It's the initial step in photosynthesis, as well, where charges are first separated and the energy is stored for later use - which is one of the concepts behind energy production using solar cells."

Newton described how combining electronic quantum mechanical theory with computational techniques has led to a unified, compact way to understand the nature of charge transfer in complex molecular aggregates.

"In essence," he explains, "the research has led to understanding electronic transport in terms of quantitative answers to a few basic mechanistic questions: namely, how far, how efficiently, and by which route (or molecular 'pathway') a charge moves from a 'donor' to an 'acceptor' in the molecular assembly." The answers come from detailed molecular quantum calculations of the energy gaps separating the relevant electronic states, and the strength of coupling between adjacent molecular units along the "pathways."

"This new approach may yield ways to predict and control electronic transport behavior by 'tuning' the molecular components, resulting in capabilities that can be used to design new solar-based energy schemes," Newton said.

Source: Brookhaven National Laboratory

Explore further: Galaxy dust findings confound view of early Universe

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Demystifying nanocrystal solar cells

Jan 28, 2015

ETH researchers have developed a comprehensive model to explain how electrons flow inside new types of solar cells made of tiny crystals. The model allows for a better understanding of such cells and may ...

Graphene brings quantum effects to electronic circuits

Jan 22, 2015

Research by scientists attached to the EC's Graphene Flagship has revealed a superfluid phase in ultra-low temperature 2D materials, creating the potential for electronic devices which dissipate very little ...

Recommended for you

Galaxy dust findings confound view of early Universe

Jan 31, 2015

What was the Universe like at the beginning of time? How did the Universe come to be the way it is today?—big questions and huge attention paid when scientists attempt answers. So was the early-universe ...

Seeking cracks in the Standard Model

Jan 30, 2015

In particle physics, it's our business to understand structure. I work on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and this machine lets us see and study the smallest structure of all; unimaginably tiny fundamental partic ...

Building the next generation of efficient computers

Jan 29, 2015

UConn researcher Bryan Huey has uncovered new information about the kinetic properties of multiferroic materials that could be a key breakthrough for scientists looking to create a new generation of low-energy, ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.