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 Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells
11.12.2017 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

nachricht Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires
07.12.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht - Zentrum für Material- und Küstenforschung

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

Im Focus: Virtual Reality for Bacteria

An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications

Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...

Im Focus: A space-time sensor for light-matter interactions

Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.

The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

Blockchain is becoming more important in the energy market

05.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New research identifies how 3-D printed metals can be both strong and ductile

11.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

11.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

What makes corals sick?

11.12.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>