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.
Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions
21.10.2016 | Stanford University
New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality
19.10.2016 | University of Waterloo
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...
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...
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...
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...
'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...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences