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Strain Speeds Organic Transistors

Big boost in charge-carrier mobility could open organic semiconductors to new applications

4 min read
optical microscopy image of an organic semiconductor

Quicker Crystals: An optical microscopy image of an organic semiconductor shows that shearing at different speeds caused different crystalline texture and degrees of strain in the film. Just the right amount of strain made charge move a lot faster through the film.

Gaurav Giri/Stanford University
Materials scientists have found a way to double or even quadruple the speed with which charge moves through organic semiconductors, potentially opening a path toward cheap, plastic 3-D TVs.

Organic semiconductors have been intensely studied because they can be printed onto flexible plastic to produce large areas of cheap, durable circuits. But these circuits have been limited because charge moves through them at a snail's pace compared to the way it speeds through silicon.

The new technique, invented in the laboratory of Zhenan Bao at Stanford University, could lead to organic circuits that operate at frequencies up to four times as high as the best of today's organic devices. That's still barely one-hundredth the speed through crystalline silicon, but it would mean cheap printed organics could more easily substitute for amorphous silicon in displays and other gadgets.

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The Transistor at 75

The past, present, and future of the modern world’s most important invention

2 min read
A photo of a birthday cake with 75 written on it.
Lisa Sheehan

Seventy-five years is a long time. It’s so long that most of us don’t remember a time before the transistor, and long enough for many engineers to have devoted entire careers to its use and development. In honor of this most important of technological achievements, this issue’s package of articles explores the transistor’s historical journey and potential future.

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