Smartphone screens and solar panels often contain rare and therefore expensive precious metals such as iridium or ruthenium.
Iridium, which is used in OLED (organic light-emitting diodes), is even rarer than gold and platinum. Ruthenium, which is used in solar cells, is one of the rarest and most stable elements. It is not enough that they are expensive because of their rarity, these metals are also toxic in many compounds.
For the first time, researchers at the University of Basel, Oliver Wenger and Patrick Hare, have succeeded in creating a luminous manganese compound in which the same reactions as ruthenium or iridium compounds occur when exposed to irradiation with light.
Compounds are those in which bonds are linked by a coordinate bond to a central atom, an ion. The scientists reported their findings in the scientific journal Nature Chemistry.
The advantage of manganese is that it is found in the Earth’s crust 900,000 times more than iridium, it is less toxic and much cheaper. No one has ever been able to create a molecular compound of manganese that glows in solution at room temperature and has special reaction properties, Wenger said.
Below, the scientist and his colleagues will develop the light properties of the new manganese compound and mount it on semiconductor materials used in solar cells.
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