The coating on the wafer that Professor Thomas Fässler, chair of Inorganic Chemistry with a Focus on Novel Materials at TU Munich, holds in his hands glitters like an opal. And it has amazing properties: It is hard as a crystal, exceptionally thin and – since it is highly porous – light as a feather.
By integrating suitable organic polymers into the pores of the material, the scientists can custom tailor the electrical properties of the ensuing hybrid material. The design not only saves space, it also creates large interface surfaces that improve overall effectiveness.
“You can imagine our raw material as a porous scaffold with a structure akin to a honeycomb. The walls comprise inorganic, semiconducting germanium, which can produce and store electric charges. Since the honeycomb walls are extremely thin, charges can flow along short paths,” explains Fässler.