“While we don’t have a really clear picture yet, we think that the molecular design of the chains enables strong overlap and metallic character, even when it’s disordered and amorphous,” said Anderson.

The researchers have said there are a number of applications for the material.

“We envision that these materials can be more robust electrical conductors, and they may be easily sprayed or painted onto surfaces or other devices,” said Anderson.

Abstract

Nature | www.nature.com | 1ArticleIntrinsic glassy-metallic transport in an amorphous coordination polymer. Jiaze Xie1, Simon Ewing1,2, Jan-Niklas Boyn1,2, Alexander S. Filatov1, Baorui Cheng1, Tengzhou Ma3, Garrett L. Grocke3, Norman Zhao1, Ram Itani1, Xiaotong Sun4, Himchan Cho1,5, Zhihengyu Chen6, Karena W. Chapman6, Shrayesh N. Patel3, Dmitri V. Talapin1,2,3,7, Jiwoong Park1,2,3, David A. Mazziotti1,2 & John S. Anderson1 ✉Conducting organic materials, such as doped organic polymers1, molecular conductors2,3 and emerging coordination polymers4, underpin technologies ranging from displays to flexible electronics5. Realizing high electrical conductivity in traditionally insulating organic materials necessitates tuning their electronic structure through chemical doping6. Furthermore, even organic materials that are intrinsically conductive, such as single-component molecular conductors 7,8, require crystallinity for metallic behaviors. However, conducting polymers are often amorphous to aid durability and processability9. Using molecular design to produce high conductivity in undoped amorphous materials would enable tunable and robust conductivity in many applications10, but there are no intrinsically conducting organic materials that maintain high conductivity when disordered. Here we report an amorphous coordination polymer, Ni tetrathiafulvalene tetrathiolate, which displays markedly high electronic conductivity (up to 1,200Scm−1) and intrinsic glassy-metallic behaviors. Theory shows that these properties are enabled by molecular overlap that is robust to structural perturbations. This unusual set of features results in high conductivity that is stable to humid air for weeks, pH 0–14 and temperatures up to 140°C. These findings demonstrate that molecular design can enable metallic conductivity even in heavily disordered materials, raising fundamental questions about how metallic transport can exist without periodic structure and indicating exciting new applications for these materials.

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