An engineering research team at the University of Alberta has invented a new transistor that could revolutionize thin-film electronic devices.
Their findings, published in the prestigious science journal Nature Communications (read the article here), could open the door to the development of flexible electronic devices with applications as wide-ranging as display technology to medical imaging and renewable energy production.
The team was exploring new uses for thin film transistors (TFT), which are most commonly found in low-power, low-frequency devices like the display screen you’re reading from now. Efforts by researchers and the consumer electronics industry to improve the performance of the transistors have been slowed by the challenges of developing new materials or slowly improving existing ones for use in traditional thin film transistor architecture, known technically as the metal oxide semiconductor field effect transistor (MOSFET).
But the U of A electrical engineering team did a run-around on the problem. Instead of developing new materials, the researchers improved performance by designing a new transistor architecture that takes advantage of a bipolar action. In other words, instead of using one type of charge carrier, as most thin film transistors do, it uses electrons and the absence of electrons (referred to as “holes”) to contribute to electrical output. Their first breakthrough was forming an ‘inversion’ hole layer in a ‘wide-bandgap’ semiconductor, which has been a great challenge in the solid-state electronics field.
Once this was achieved, “we were able to construct a unique combination of semiconductor and insulating layers that allowed us to inject “holes” at the MOS interface,” said Gem Shoute, a PhD student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering who is lead author on the article. Adding holes at the interface increased the chances of an electron “tunneling” across a dielectric barrier. Through this phenomenon, a type of quantum tunnelling, “we were finally able to achieve a transistor that behaves like a bipolar transistor.”
“It’s actually the best performing [TFT] device of its kind—ever,” said materials engineering professor Ken Cadien, a co-author on the paper. “This kind of device is normally limited by the non-crystalline nature of the material that they are made of”
The dimension of the device itself can be scaled with ease in order to improve performance and keep up with the need of miniaturization. An advantage that modern TFTs lack. The transistor has power-handling capabilities at least 10 times greater than commercially produced thin film transistors.
Electrical engineering professor Doug Barlage, who is Shoute’s PhD supervisor and one of the paper’s lead authors, says his group was determined to try new approaches and break new ground. He says the team knew it could produce a high-power thin film transistor—it was just a matter of finding out how.
“Our goal was to make a thin film transistor with the highest power handling and switching speed possible. Not many people want to look into that, but the raw properties of the film indicated dramatic performance increase was within reach,” he said. “The high quality sub 30 nanometre (a human hair is 50,000 nanometres wide) layers of materials produced by Professor Cadien’s group enabled us to successfully try these difficult concepts”
In the end, the team took advantage of the very phenomena other researchers considered roadblocks.
“Usually tunnelling current is considered a bad thing in MOSFETs and it contributes to unnecessary loss of power, which manifests as heat,” explained Shoute. “What we’ve done is build a transistor that considers tunnelling current a benefit.”
The team has filed a provisional patent on the transistor. Shoute says the next step is to put the transistor to work “in a fully flexible medium and apply these devices to areas like biomedical imaging, or renewable energy.”
The Latest on: Flexible electronics
via Google News
The Latest on: Flexible electronics
- Global Flexible Heaters Market 2019 Drivers, Opportunities, Trends, and Forecast by 2024 - MRE Analysison September 16, 2019 at 2:02 am
Global Flexible Heaters Market is segmented based on the type as Silicon Rubber Heater, Polyimide Film Heater, Polyester Heater, Mica Heater and Others. Based on application covers Electronics, ...
- Arm Flexible Access extended to include researchon September 15, 2019 at 4:06 pm
Arm is looking to build on this and to strengthen the company's long-standing commitment to academia and research, and has announced Arm Flexible Access for Research. This new program will provide the ...
- Reconfigurable electronics show promise for wearables, implantables | IDTechEx Research Articleon September 13, 2019 at 8:10 pm
For more information see the IDTechEx report on Flexible, Printed and Organic Electronics 2019-2029. In Applied Physics Letters, from AIP Publishing, a group of researchers from King Abdullah ...
- Healthcare Meets Electronics: Event Assesses the Opportunities | IDTechEx Research Articleon September 11, 2019 at 5:52 pm
The event addresses the needs and opportunities for faster diagnosis, remote monitoring and treatment and the opportunity for new revenue streams, alongside the progress of the enabling technologies ...
- Fully portable and wireless universal brain–machine interfaces enabled by flexible scalp electronics and deep learning algorithmon September 11, 2019 at 8:16 am
Variation in human brains creates difficulty in implementing electroencephalography into universal brain–machine interfaces. Conventional electroencephalography systems typically suffer from motion ...
- Reconfigurable electronics show promise for wearable, implantable deviceson September 10, 2019 at 8:27 am
With their work, the researchers are introducing a new branch of flexible, stretchable electronics -- opening the door to new engineering challenges and providing opportunities for innovation in ...
- Stretchable Electronics: IDTechEx Research Reviews Commercialization Progress and Challengeson September 9, 2019 at 1:40 pm
One example is in printed and flexible electronics. In the earlier days, the vast majority of the market participants were material or component suppliers. The end users who strongly engaged had ...
- SnakeClamp Products LLC Launches Flexwire - A Custom Length Solid Core Waterproof Flexible Arm Alternative to Flexible Gooseneck Tubingon September 9, 2019 at 5:11 am
It can be used anywhere a flexible arm is required for the mounting and positioning of cameras, sensors, scanners, tablets, controllers or other electronics and equipment. "This is a game-changer," ...
- Mesh electronics could make brain stimulation the new therapeutic normon September 6, 2019 at 12:00 am
This is where Lieber has made a huge difference with ultra-flexible mesh electronics, which promise to deliver what he calls “precision electronic medicine”. These hardly activate an immune response, ...
- Global Flexible Flat Displays Market 2019- LG DISPLAY CO LTD, SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS CO LTD, INNOLUX CORPon September 5, 2019 at 10:19 pm
Sep 06, 2019 (Eon Market Research via COMTEX) -- The global market for Flexible Flat Displays has been analyzed in an in-depth market research report recently added to the rapidly expanding research ...
via Bing News