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.
| University of Illinois
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