Double helix metal could change energy sector

A double helix structure has been found in an inorganic semiconducting material, opening the door for a number of energy-related applications. The double helix, most famously occurs as the structure […]

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By Jonny Bairstow

A double helix structure has been found in an inorganic semiconducting material, opening the door for a number of energy-related applications.

The double helix, most famously occurs as the structure of DNA, to which the shape lends robustness and flexibility. It does the same for SnIP, a semiconductor made up of tin (Sn), iodine (I) and phosphorus (P) that was discovered by a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM).

Its strong, flexible fibers coupled with its semiconductive properties mean it could prove very useful in solar, thermo-electric and electronic advancements.

Tom Nilges, Professor for Synthesis and Characterization of Innovative Materials at TUM, said: “The combination of interesting semiconductor properties and mechanical flexibility gives us great optimism regarding possible applications.

“Compared to organic solar cells, we hope to achieve significantly higher stability from the inorganic materials. For example, SnIP remains stable up to around 500°C.”

It can also be easily and cheaply split into incredibly thin strands, which make it a good candidate for use in the nano-electric sector.