A simple surface treatment technique demonstrated by a collaboration between researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Penn State and the University of Kentucky potentially offers a low-cost way to mass produce large arrays of organic electronic transistors on polymer sheets for a wide range of applications including flexible displays, intelligent paper and flexible sheets of biosensor arrays for field diagnostics.
In a paper posted this week,* the team describes how a chemical pretreatment of electrical contacts can induce self-assembly of molecular crystals to both improve the performance of organic semiconductor devices and provide electrical isolation between devices.
Organic electronic devices are inching towards the market. Compounds with tongue-twisting names like 5,11-bis(triethylsilylethynyl) anthradithiophene can be designed with many of the electrical properties of more conventional semiconductors. But unlike traditional semiconductors that require high-temperature processing steps, organic semiconductor devices can be manufactured at room temperature. They could be built on flexible polymers instead of rigid silicon wafers. Magazine-size displays that could be rolled up or folded to pocket size and plastic sheets that incorporate large arrays of detectors for medical monitoring or diagnostics in the field are just a couple of the tantalizing possibilities.
One unsolved problem is how to manufacture them efficiently and at low cost. Large areas can be coated rapidly with a thin film of the organic compound in solution, which dries to a semiconductor layer. But for big arrays like displays, that layer must be patterned into electrically isolated devices. Doing that requires one or more additional steps that are costly, time-consuming and/or difficult to do accurately.
The NIST team and their partners studied the organic version of a workhorse devicethe field effect t
|Contact: Michael Baum|
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)