Professor Aimin Song from the School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering (EEE) is one of only eight people to receive a 2007 Brian Mercer Feasibility Award from the Royal Society.
The £30,000 award will assist Professor Song in his efforts to push the processing speed of plastic components way beyond what has previously been achieved.
Plastic electronics arguably came to real prominence after three scientists won the 2000 Nobel Prize for their contribution to the discovery and development of conductive polymer plastics.
The technology opens up the possibility for very flexible, high-tech devices – such as information screens that you can roll up and put in your pocket – being developed.
But while the rise of plastic electronics has brought potential, it has also brought some problems; conventional multi-layered transistors made from polymer plastics offer relatively slow conductivity speeds and involve a complex and costly manufacturing process.
With support and funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Professor Song has pioneered a way to make single-layered planar plastic transistors and diodes using a fast and simple printing technique.
Professor Song is confident he can push the speed of his organic plastic semiconductors to around 100Mhz – way beyond the 20 Megahertz (Mhz) he has so far achieved.
In the past, multi-layered transistors made from plastic have generally worked at Kilohertz (KHz) speeds or below.
Plastic components such as semiconductors and diodes could be used to create drivers for flexible displays, Radio Frequency Identification Tags (RFIDs) and intelligent disposable sensors.
Professor Song believes this could ultimately lead to the production of information displays that can be rolled up and put into your pocket, and also changeable electronic wallpaper.
Other potential applications include intelligent tickets for public transport systems or road charging schemes and electronic stamps for letters and packages.
Due to the high level of commercial interest in Professor Song’s breakthrough technology, he has formed a company called Plastic ePrint Ltd with support form The University of Manchester Intellectual Property Ltd (UMIP).
The firm is now seeking venture capital funding and is also working on creating demonstration versions of plastic radio frequency (RF) smart cards and developing plastic components for use in flexible displays.
Professor Song, who works in the Microelectronics and Nanostructures group at The University, said: “In the film The Graduate, the character played by Dustin Hoffman is famously advised that the future is plastics. From many points of view, this prediction is quite true and I think that plastics will bring a revolution for the second time in history.
“The components we have developed are simpler and potentially much cheaper to produce and much faster than previous organic electronic devices.
“These advantages come from the simplicity of the single layer, planar structures, rather than the multi-layer vertical structures of conventional semiconductor devices.
“There is still much work to be done, and this prestigious award will help us continue to drive our work forward. However, I am confident the development of plastic electronics will lead to a new-generation of exciting products coming into our everyday lives.”
Dr Richard Price from UMIP said: “Professor Song’s technology has the potential to be at the cornerstone of the plastic electronics revolution – the nanodevices are so simple, yet extremely elegant.
“Initial applications will have relatively modest functionality in comparison to today’s silicon technology, but as materials and processes continue to develop there should be no reason why high-performance products cannot be realised in the future.”
Professor Song is one of two academics from The University of Manchester to receive a Brian Mercer Feasibility Award this year.
Professor Andre Geim from The School of Physics and Astronomy also received the honour for his discovery and development of two-dimensional materials – including graphene – that are only one atom thick.
Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches
25.05.2018 | Universität Ulm
Supercomputing the emergence of material behavior
18.05.2018 | University of Texas at Austin, Texas Advanced Computing Center
The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.
Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
25.05.2018 | Event News
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering
25.05.2018 | Life Sciences