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Researchers Engineer an Electronics First Opening Door to Flexible Electronics

By ­niversity of Alberta

February 16, 2016

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University of Alberta researchers say they have developed a transistor that could revolutionize thin-film electronic devices, as well as lead to flexible electronic devices with wide-ranging applications.

They started out exploring new uses for thin-film transistors, but instead of developing new materials, the researchers improved performance by designing a new transistor architecture that takes advantage of a bipolar action. Instead of using one type of charge carrier, the new architecture uses electrons and the absence of electrons, known as "holes," to contribute to electrical output; this enabled the researchers to form an "inversion" hole layer in a "wide-bandgap" semiconductor. 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," says Alberta researcher Gem Shoute.

Adding holes at the interface increased the chances of an electron "tunneling" across a dielectric barrier. Shoute says through this phenomenon, a type of quantum tunnelling, "we were finally able to achieve a transistor that behaves like a bipolar transistor."

The researchers note the device can be scaled to improve performance and keep up with the need of miniaturization, and the transistor has power-handling capabilities at least 10 times greater than commercially produced thin-film transistors.

From University of Alberta
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