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Solution-processed electronics operating at battery-compatible voltages


Prof. Pecunia has first-authored a paper published in the journal Advanced Materials  reporting a breakthrough in low-voltage solution-processed electronics, which is in high demand for smart-sensor systems and the Internet of Things. 

Solution-processed polymer semiconductors have long been hailed as highly attractive for low-cost thin-film-transistor (TFT) electronics that can be easily realised over large areas and in unique form factors. However, due to the generally large bulk trap density of polymer semiconductors, a key challenge has been to achieve low-voltage circuit operation, which is essential for real-world applications.

This paper addresses this very challenge, and reports a breakthrough in conditioning polymer semiconductors for low-voltage operation. Specifically, it sheds light on the detrimental effect of bulk traps on polymer TFT operation at reduced electric fields, and shows that this effect can be overcome through small-molecule additives. The effectiveness of this trap-healing scheme enables the realisation of low-voltage complementary circuits on foil comprising p-channel and n-channel TFTs based on solution-processed polymer and metal-oxide semiconductors. The potential of this approach is demonstrated through the fabrication of differential analog amplifiers (i.e., circuit blocks key to manifold sensing applications) with cutting edge-performance (e.g., with a gain of ~60 dB), and capable of functioning down to a battery-compatible supply voltage of 5 V. Therefore, this approach shows a way forward in low-voltage solution-processed electronics that can address real-world applications. 

Reference
V. Pecunia†*, M. Nikolka*, A. Sou, I. Nasrallah, A. Y. Amin, I. McCulloch, H. Sirringhaus†*, “Trap Healing for High-Performance Low-Voltage Polymer Transistors and Solution-Based Analog Amplifiers on Foil”, Advanced Materials, 29, 1606938, 2017. DOI: 10.1002/adma.201606938

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