First transistors created out of nanocrystal inks - Could be utilized for flexible and wearable electronics

04/09/2016 - 17:36

Evan Lerner

The transistor is the most fundamental building block of electronics, used to build circuits capable of amplifying electrical signals or switching them between the 0s and 1s at the heart of digital computation. Transistor fabrication is a highly complex process, however, requiring high-temperature, high-vacuum equipment.

Now, University of Pennsylvania engineers have shown a new approach for making these devices: sequentially depositing their components in the form of liquid nanocrystal “inks.”


Ref: Exploiting the colloidal nanocrystal library to construct electronic devices. Science (8 April 2016) | DOI: 10.1126/science.aad0371


Synthetic methods produce libraries of colloidal nanocrystals with tunable physical properties by tailoring the nanocrystal size, shape, and composition. Here, we exploit colloidal nanocrystal diversity and design the materials, interfaces, and processes to construct all-nanocrystal electronic devices using solution-based processes. Metallic silver and semiconducting cadmium selenide nanocrystals are deposited to form high-conductivity and high-mobility thin-film electrodes and channel layers of field-effect transistors. Insulating aluminum oxide nanocrystals are assembled layer by layer with polyelectrolytes to form high–dielectric constant gate insulator layers for low-voltage device operation. Metallic indium nanocrystals are codispersed with silver nanocrystals to integrate an indium supply in the deposited electrodes that serves to passivate and dope the cadmium selenide nanocrystal channel layer. We fabricate all-nanocrystal field-effect transistors on flexible plastics with electron mobilities of 21.7 square centimeters per volt-second.