Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Directed self-ordering of organic molecules for electronic devices

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 device—the field effect transistor (FET)—that commonly is used as a switch to, for example, turn pixels on and off in computer displays. The essential structure consists of two electrical contacts with a channel of semiconductor between them. The researchers found that by applying a specially tailored pretreatment compound to the contacts before applying the organic semiconductor solution, they could induce the molecules in solution to self-assemble into well-ordered crystals at the contact sites. These structures grow outwards to join across the FET channel in a way that provides good electrical properties at the FET site, but further away from the treated contacts the molecules dry in a more random, helter-skelter arrangement that has dramatically poorer properties—effectively providing the needed electrical isolation for each device without any additional processing steps. The work is an example of the merging of device structure and function that may enable low cost manufacturing, and an area where organic materials have important advantages.

In addition to its potential as a commercially important manufacturing process, the authors note, this chemically engineered self-ordering of organic semiconductor molecules can be used to create test structures for fundamental studies of charge transport and other important properties of a range of organic electronic systems.

* D.J. Gundlach, J.E. Royer, S.K. Park, S. Subramanian, O.D. Jurchescu, B.H. Hamadani, A.J. Moad, R.J. Kline, L.C. Teague, O. Kirillov, C.A. Richter, J.G. Kushmerick, L.J. Richter, S.R. Parkin, T.N. Jackson and J.E. Anthony. Contact-induced crystallinity for high-performance soluble acene-based transistors and circuits. Nature Materials Advanced Online Publication, 17 February 2008.

Michael Baum | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Greater Range and Longer Lifetime
26.10.2016 | Technologie Lizenz-Büro (TLB) der Baden-Württembergischen Hochschulen GmbH

nachricht 3-D-printed magnets
26.10.2016 | Vienna University of Technology

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>