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Friday, 10 January 2014 14:07

Transparent chips are the way to seeing things better

Written by Nick Farrell



Reversed logic

Boffins have emerged from their smoke filled labs with transparent thin-film organic semiconductors that could become the foundation for cheap, high-performance displays. Two university research teams have worked together to produce the world's fastest thin-film organic transistors, proving that this experimental technology has the potential to achieve the performance needed for high-resolution television screens and similar electronic devices.

According to the latest issue of Nature Communications, engineers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) and Stanford University show how they created thin-film organic transistors that could operate more than five times faster than previous examples of this experimental technology.

Research teams led by Zhenan Bao, professor of chemical engineering at Stanford, and Jinsong Huang, assistant professor of mechanical and materials engineering at UNL used their new process to make organic thin-film transistors with electronic characteristics comparable to those found in expensive, curved-screen television displays based on a form of silicon technology.

At the moment the high tech method is to drop a special solution, containing carbon-rich molecules and a complementary plastic, onto a spinning platter made of glass. The spinning action deposits a thin coating of the materials over the platter. The boffins worked out that if they spun the platter faster and coated a tiny portion of the spinning surface, equivalent to the size of a postage stamp they could put a denser concentration of the organic molecules into a more regular alignment. The result was a great improvement in carrier mobility, which measures how quickly electrical charges travel through the transistor.

Nick Farrell

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