Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Printable Silicon For Ultrahigh Performance Flexible Electronic Systems


By carving specks of single crystal silicon from a bulk wafer and casting them onto sheets of plastic, scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have demonstrated a route to ultrahigh performance, mechanically flexible thin-film transistors. The process could enable new applications in consumer electronics - such as inexpensive wall-to-wall displays and intelligent but disposable radio frequency identification tags - and could even be used in applications that require significant computing power.

"Conventional silicon devices are limited by the size of the silicon wafer, which is typically less than 12 inches in diameter," said John Rogers, a professor of materials science and engineering and co-author of a paper to appear in the June 28 issue of the journal Applied Physics Letters. "Instead of making the wafer bigger and costlier, we want to slice up the wafer and disperse it in such a way that we can then place pieces where we need them on large, low-cost substrates such as flexible plastics."

This approach has important advantages compared with paths for similar devices that use organic molecules for the semiconductor. Single-crystal silicon has extremely good electrical properties (roughly 1,000 times better than known organics) and its reliability and materials properties are well known from decades of research in silicon microelectronics.

To demonstrate the technique, Rogers and his colleagues fabricated single-crystal, microstructured silicon objects from wafers using conventional lithographic patterning and etching processes. The processing sequence generated objects of various shapes as small as 50 nanometers on a side. The researchers then used two approaches for transferring the objects to substrates to create high performance, thin-film transistors.

"In one approach, we used procedures that exploit high-resolution rubber stamps for transfer printing," said co-author Ralph Nuzzo, a professor of chemistry and director of the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory on the U. of I. campus. "In the other approach, the objects were dispersed in a solvent and then cast using solution-based printing techniques."

Both approaches can be implemented in a manufacturing environment, and would scale nicely to large-area formats, Nuzzo said. Separating the processing of the silicon from the fabrication of other transistor components enables the devices to be integrated with a wide range of material types, including low-cost plastics.

Fabricating circuits by continuous, high-speed printing techniques could offer different capabilities than can be achieved with existing silicon technologies, Rogers said. "We can think in terms of unconventional electronics - putting devices in places where standard silicon chips can’t go due to expense or geometry."

Not only could huge, wall-sized displays be built at far less cost, components could be printed on the insides of windshields and other non-flat surfaces. While current fabrication techniques favor flat chips, printing-based methods remove that constraint.

"Another aspect of low-cost electronic printing is embedding information technology into places where it didn’t exist before," Nuzzo said. "By inserting electronic intelligence into everyday items, we could exchange information and communicate in exciting new ways."

An example, he said, would be low-cost radio frequency identification tags that could take the place of ordinary product bar codes. Such tags could ease congestion in supermarket checkout lines and help busy homemakers maintain shopping lists.

"You can let your imagination run wild," Nuzzo said. "The functionality of an electronic circuit doesn’t have to be wired to a chip - it can be integrated into the architecture itself."

In addition to Nuzzo and Rogers, co-authors of the paper were visiting scholar Etienne Menard, postdoctoral researcher Dahl-Young Khang and graduate student Keon-Jae Lee. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy funded the work.

| University of Illinois
Further information:

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht 'Super yeast' has the power to improve economics of biofuels
18.10.2016 | University of Wisconsin-Madison

nachricht Engineers reveal fabrication process for revolutionary transparent sensors
14.10.2016 | University of Wisconsin-Madison

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: 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...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

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

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>