Flexible Ultrathin electronic film similar to cell membrane

The film is transparent, but the forces of attraction and repulsion between the molecules create an organized, repeated herringbone pattern when the film is viewed from above through a microscope.

The overall molecular structure of the bilayer is highly stable.

The individual molecules used in the current film are divided into two regions: a head and a tail. The head of one molecule stacks on top of another, with their tails pointing in opposite directions so the molecules form a vertical line.

These two molecules are surrounded by identical head-to-head pairs of molecules, which all together form a sandwich called a molecular bilayer.

They could prevent additional bilayers from stacking on top by building the bilayer out of molecules with different length tails, so the surfaces of the bilayer are rough and naturally discourage stacking. This effect of different lengths is referred to as geometric frustration.

The geometric frustration, which uses a molecular shape that makes it difficult for molecules to settle in multiple layers on top of each other

Standard methods of creating semiconductive molecular bilayers cannot control the thickness without causing cracks or an irregular surface.

The semiconductive properties of the bilayer may give the films applications in flexible electronics or chemical detection. Semiconductors are able to switch between states that allow electricity to flow (conductors) and states that prevent electricity from flowing (insulators).

This on-off switching is what allows transistors to quickly change displayed images, such as a picture on an LCD screen. The single molecular bilayer created by the research team is much faster than amorphous silicon thin film transistors, a common type of semiconductor currently used in electronics.


  • thin film transistors
  • potential future applications in flexible electronics or chemical detectors.
  • first example of semiconductive single molecular bilayers created with liquid solution



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