Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Overlooked resistance may inflate estimates of organic-semiconductor performance

10.03.2016

If unaccounted for, 'non-ideal' behaviors can inflate estimates of charge-carrier mobility

It's hardly a character flaw, but organic transistors--the kind envisioned for a host of flexible electronics devices--behave less than ideally, or at least not up to the standards set by their rigid, predictable silicon counterparts. When unrecognized, a new study finds, this disparity can lead to gross overestimates of charge-carrier mobility, a property key to the performance of electronic devices.


A circuit made from organic thin-film transistors is fabricated on a flexible plastic substrate. A team of NIST, Wake Forest, and Penn State University researchers has identified an overlooked source of electrical resistance that can exert a dominant influence on organic-semiconductor performance.

Credit: Patrick Mansell/Penn State

If measurements fail to account for these divergent behaviors in so-called "organic field-effect transistors" (OFETs), the resulting estimates of how fast electrons or other charge carriers travel in the devices may be more than 10 times too high, report researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Wake Forest University and Penn State University. The team's measurements implicate an overlooked source of electrical resistance as the root of inaccuracies that can inflate estimates of organic semiconductor performance.

Their article appears in the latest issue of Nature Communications.

Already used in light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, electrically conductive polymers and small molecules are being groomed for applications in flexible displays, flat-panel TVs, sensors, "smart" textiles, solar cells and "Internet of Things" applications. Besides flexibility, a key selling point is that the organic devices--sometimes called "plastic electronics"--can be manufactured in large volumes and far more inexpensively than today's ubiquitous silicon-based devices.

A key sticking point, however, is the challenge of achieving the high levels of charge-carrier mobility that these applications require. In the semiconductor arena, the general rule is that higher mobility is always better, enabling faster, more responsive devices. So chemists have set out to hurry electrons along. Working from a large palette of organic materials, they have been searching for chemicals--alone or in combination--that will up the speed limit in their experimental devices.

Just as for silicon semiconductors, assessments of performance require measurements of current and voltage. In the basic transistor design, a source electrode injects charge into the transistor channel leading to a drain electrode. In between sits a gate electrode that regulates the current in the channel by applying voltage, functioning much like a valve.

Typically, measurements are analyzed according to a longstanding theory for silicon field-effect transistors. Plug in the current and voltage values and the theory can be used to predict properties that determine how well the transistor will perform in a circuit.

Results are rendered as a series of "transfer curves." Of particular interest in the new study are curves showing how the drain current changes in response to a change in the gate electrode voltage. For devices with ideal behavior, this relationship provides a good measure of how fast charge carriers move through the channel to the drain.

"Organic semiconductors are more prone to non-ideal behavior because the relatively weak intermolecular interactions that make them attractive for low-temperature processing also limit the ability to engineer efficient contacts as one would for state-of-the-art silicon devices," says electrical engineer David Gundlach, who leads NIST's Thin Film Electronics Project. "Since there are so many different organic materials under investigation for electronics applications, we decided to step back and do a measurement check on the conventional wisdom."

Using what Gundlach describes as the semiconductor industry's "workhorse" measurement methods, the team scrutinized an OFET made of single-crystal rubrene, an organic semiconductor with a molecule shaped a bit like a microscale insect. Their measurements revealed that electrical resistance at the source electrode--the contact point where current is injected into the OFET-- significantly influences the subsequent flow of electrons in the transistor channel, and hence the mobility.

In effect, contact resistance at the source electrode creates the equivalent of a second valve that controls the entry of current into the transistor channel. Unaccounted for in the standard theory, this valve can overwhelm the gate--the de facto¬ regulator between the source and drain in a silicon semiconductor transistor--and become the dominant influence on transistor behavior.

At low gate voltages, this contact resistance at the source can overwhelm device operation. Consequently, model-based estimates of charge-carrier mobility in organic semiconductors may be more than 10 times higher than the actual value, the research team reports.

Hardly ideal behavior, but the aim of the study, the researchers write, is to improve "understanding of the source of the non-ideal behavior and its impact on extracted figures of merit," especially charge-carrier mobility. This knowledge, they add, can inform efforts to develop accurate, comprehensive measurement methods for benchmarking organic semiconductor performance, as well as guide efforts to optimize contact interfaces.

###

Article: E.G. Bittle, J.I. Basham, T.N. Jackson, O.D. Jurchescu, and D.J. Gundlach, "The effect of gated contacts on organic field-effect transistor operation and parameterization," Nature Communications. DOI: 10.1038/NCOMMS10908

Media Contact

Mark Bello
mark.bello@nist.gov
301-975-3776

 @usnistgov

http://www.nist.gov 

Mark Bello | EurekAlert!

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Scientist invents way to trigger artificial photosynthesis to clean air
26.04.2017 | University of Central Florida

nachricht Researchers invent process to make sustainable rubber, plastics
25.04.2017 | University of Delaware

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientist invents way to trigger artificial photosynthesis to clean air

26.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ammonium nitrogen input increases the synthesis of anticarcinogenic compounds in broccoli

26.04.2017 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history

26.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>