There is an urgent need for the development of materials that can effectively bridge living systems with electronics for biomedical applications. This EPSRC-funded Bridging the Gap project investigated a new class of gel-phase materials that could be ideally suited for this purpose. These materials are composed of hybrid biomolecular/organic building blocks that spontaneously assemble into conducting nanotubular networks. This project was followed by two 10-week EPSRC Vacation Bursaries (in 2012 and 2013) led by Gleskova and in collaboration with Ulijn and Skabara.
Initially, electrical conductivity of xerogels based on two newly developed materials, TTF-LLL-OMe and TTF-LLL-OH, was investigated as a function of temperature and iodine doping. The electrical conductivity of the as-deposited TTF-LLL-OH was thermally activated with the activation energy of ~ 0.47 eV. After exposure to iodine, the conductivity lost its thermally-activated character for temperatures above ~ 30⁰C.
Later, assembly of TTF-FF-NH2 in several organic solvents was studied. AFM, FTIR and UV-Vis-NIR spectroscopy confirmed the presence of ordered nano-structures in the gel in several instances. The gel exhibited electrical conductivities with thermally activated character in both undoped and iodine-doped state.