Plastic electronics: they hold the promise of cheap mass-produced LEDs and solar cells, but they have a flaw: charge traps. Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology recently uncovered new knowledge on charge traps which are electrical anomalies that block electrons in plastic semiconductors. The researchers discovered that charge traps are created when water-oxygen impurities are present in the plastic. Because the energy levels in these impurities are below the energy levels on desired electron pathways, electrons tend to “fall” to fill the gaps in the traps. While even production in a nitrogen atmosphere, “cannot prevent contamination with minute quantities of oxygen and water” -- and thus the creation of traps, one researcher noted -- the new knowledge should allows chemists to design semiconductors where trap energy levels exist above levels in desired electron pathways, effectively removing the problem.