Manchester scientists and collaborators developed ultrafast transistors that could enable flexible, transparent chips for wearable electronics

The market of wearable technology is now entering a very rapid growth phase, predicted to reach $70 billion in 2025 by IDTechx. Despite the huge success of silicon transistors in the last 70 years, silicon is rigid and opaque, therefore unable to achieve the required mechanical flexibility or optical transparency for wearable electronics. In contrast, novel thin-film oxide semiconductors (e.g., ZnO and InGaZnO) are both transparent and flexible, allowing for potential new innovations such as bendable electronic tablets and television screens.

Oxide-based transistors have been around for many years, although researchers have not been able to get them to operate at the speeds needed for high-performing electronics. Recently, a collaboration between the University of Manchester, Shandong University, and Institute of Semiconductors, Chinese Academy of Sciences has produced an oxide transistor that can function at speeds of more than 1 gigahertz (GHz), meaning it can run more than 1 billion operations in a second. This makes it possible to make flexible or transparent chips for a range of electronics that is not achievable by silicon, such as electronics on a car windscreen, circuits on paper, flexible watches and possibly even bendable phones. Previously, Professor Aimin Song’s group demonstrated the fastest flexible diodes in the world in 2015, reaching 6.3 GHz. Low voltage oxide transistors and integrated circuits have also been developed in the last couple of years.

  1. University of Manchester news room: http://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/flexible-tvs-and-high-performance-wearable-smart-tech-one-step-closer/
  2. NewElectronics´╝Ühttp://www.newelectronics.co.uk/electronics-news/one-step-closer-to-flexible-tvs-and-high-performance-wearables/172793/?from=timeline&isappinstalled=0
  3. ChinaDaily´╝Ü http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201804/20/WS5ad8c0cda3105cdcf65195df.html
  4. Phys.org: http://phys.org/news/2015-07-fastest-ever-flexible-diode-piece-bendable.html
  5. Prof. Song: http://www.manchester.ac.uk/research/A.Song
  6. Amorphous-InGaZnO Thin-Film Transistors Operating Beyond 1 GHz Achieved by Optimizing the Channel and Gate Dimensions. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/8306513/
  7. Flexible indium-gallium-zinc-oxide Schottky diode operating beyond 2.45 GHz. https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms8561
  8. Complementary Integrated Circuits Based on p-Type SnO and n-Type IGZO Thin-Film Transistors. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/8240960/
  9. Highly Optimized Complementary Inverters Based on p-SnO and n-InGaZnO With High Uniformity. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/8302896/
  10. Low voltage operation of IGZO thin film transistors enabled by ultrathin Al2O3 gate dielectric. https://aip.scitation.org/doi/abs/10.1063/1.5003662
  11. One-Volt IGZO Thin-Film Transistors with Ultra-Thin, Solution-Processed AlxOy Gate Dielectric. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/8269257/
  12. Oxide-Based Electric-Double-Layer Thin-Film Transistors on a Flexible Substrate, https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/8093620/

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