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Slow ‘hot electrons’ could improve solar cell efficiency

Photons with energy higher than the ‘band gap’ of the semiconductor absorbing them give rise to what are known as hot electrons. Scientists have now found a material in which these hot electrons retain their high energy levels for much longer.

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Two zero-gravity experiments pushing the frontier of graphene’s potential

Two recent experiments to assess, for the first time, the viability of graphene for space applications. The experiments tested the material under zero-gravity conditions specifically for light propulsion and also for thermal management applications, with very encouraging results.

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2018 will see first uses of 8K resolution display

As the demand for super-large TV displays grow, the need for higher resolution is set to increase, seeing the first uses of 8K display in 2018, according to IHS Markit (Nasdaq: INFO).

While ultra-high definition (UHD) panels are estimated to account for more than 98 percent of the 60-inch and larger display market in 2017, most TV panel suppliers are planning to mass produce 8K displays in 2018. The 7680 x 4320 pixel resolution display is expected to make up about 1 percent of the 60-inch and larger display market this year and 9 percent in 2020, according to the Display Long-term Demand Forecast Tracker report by IHS Markit.

60-inch_and_larger_TV_panel_shipment_forecast_by_resolution

“As UHD has rapidly replaced full HD in the super large-sized TV display market, panel makers are willing to supply differentiated products with higher resolution and improve profit margin with premium products,” said Ricky Park, director at IHS Markit. “Year 2018 will become the first year of the 8K resolution TV display.”

Innolux started developing 8K panels in 2017 and produced its first ever 8K LCD TV display (60Hz, 65-inch) in the fourth quarter of 2017. The display will be supplied to Sharp TV and Chinese brands in the beginning. Meanwhile, Sharp has also mass produced its first 8K LCD TV display at 70-inch in the last quarter of 2017 to support the Sharp TV brand in China.

Looking at the 8K display roadmap in 2018, it appears that Samsung Electronics and Sony are driving the market at this time. They plan to release their flagship 8K TV models in 2018. Samsung and Sony will consume almost all 120Hz 8K panels from Innolux, AUO and Samsung Display, with sizes varying from 65 to 75 and 85 inches.

BOE and CEC-Panda are now planning to develop 8K LCD TV panels in the second half of 2018 and taking on a differentiation strategy, LG Display will likely focus on developing OLED 8K panel in the future. LG Display unveiled the world’s first 88-inch 8K OLED TV display at CES 2018.

Based on current plans, panel makers in the early stages of development will mostly develop 60Hz 8K displays based on a-Si technology, and those in the next stages are also likely to develop 120Hz 8K displays based on oxide technology. The latter has advantages, such as better aperture ratio and lower power consumption.

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Picosun provides 300mm ALD technology for green power electronics

Picosun Oy, a supplier of Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) thin film coating technology for global industries, partners with STMicroelectronics S.r.l. to develop the next generation 300mm production solutions for advanced power electronics.

Power electronic components are right at the heart of many core elements of our society, where energy saving, sparing use of natural resources, and CO2 emission reductions are called for to provide for sustainable future. Energy production with renewables such as wind and solar, clean transportation with electric vehicles and trains, and industrial manufacturing with energy-smart power management and factory automation are key markets where the demand for advanced power components is increasing.

Most power semiconductor industries use 200 mm wafers as substrates. Transfer to 300 mm enables more efficient, ecological, and economical production through larger throughputs with relatively smaller material losses, and adaptation of novel manufacturing processes such as ALD allows smaller chip sizes with increased level of integration.

As a part of the funded project R3-POWERUP (*), Picosun’s PICOPLATFORM™ 300 ALD cluster tool will be optimized and validated for 300 mm production of power electronic components. The SEMI S2 certified PICOPLATFORM™ 300 cluster tool consists of two PICOSUN™ P-300S ALD reactors, one dedicated for high-k dielectric oxides and one for nitrides, connected together and operated under constant vacuum with a central vacuum robot substrate handling unit. The ALD reactors are equipped with Picosun’s proprietary Picoflow™ feature which enables conformal ALD depositions in high aspect ratios up to 1:2500 and even beyond. Substrate loading is realized with an EFEM with FOUP ports. The fully automated cluster tool can be integrated into the production line and connected to factory host via SECS/GEM interface.

“Our PICOPLATFORM™ 300 cluster tools have already proven their strength in conventional IC applications, so expansion to the power semiconductors is only natural. We are very pleased to work with a company such as STMicroelectronics to tailor and validate our 300mm ALD production solutions to this rapidly growing market. This is also a prime opportunity both to contribute to the future of European semiconductor industries, and to utilize ALD to provide technological solutions to the global ecological and societal challenges such as climate change and dwindling natural resources,” summarizes Juhana Kostamo, Managing Director of Picosun.

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Nanostructured gate dielectric boosts stability of organic thin-film transistors

A nanostructured gate dielectric may have addressed the most significant obstacle to expanding the use of organic semiconductors for thin-film transistors. The structure, composed of a fluoropolymer layer followed by a nanolaminate made from two metal oxide materials, serves as gate dielectric and simultaneously protects the organic semiconductor – which had previously been vulnerable to damage from the ambient environment – and enables the transistors to operate with unprecedented stability.

Image shows organic-thin film transistors with a nanostructured gate dielectric under continuous testing on a probe station. (Credit: Rob Felt, Georgia Tech)

Image shows organic-thin film transistors with a nanostructured gate dielectric under continuous testing on a probe station. (Credit: Rob Felt, Georgia Tech)

The new structure gives thin-film transistors stability comparable to those made with inorganic materials, allowing them to operate in ambient conditions – even underwater. Organic thin-film transistors can be made inexpensively at low temperature on a variety of flexible substrates using techniques such as inkjet printing, potentially opening new applications that take advantage of simple, additive fabrication processes.

“We have now proven a geometry that yields lifetime performance that for the first time establish that organic circuits can be as stable as devices produced with conventional inorganic technologies,” said Bernard Kippelen, the Joseph M. Pettit professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) and director of Georgia Tech’s Center for Organic Photonics and Electronics (COPE). “This could be the tipping point for organic thin-film transistors, addressing long-standing concerns about the stability of organic-based printable devices.”

The research was reported January 12 in the journal Science Advances. The research is the culmination of 15 years of development within COPE and was supported by sponsors including the Office of Naval Research, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and the National Nuclear Security Administration.

Transistors comprise three electrodes. The source and drain electrodes pass current to create the “on” state, but only when a voltage is applied to the gate electrode, which is separated from the organic semiconductor material by a thin dielectric layer. A unique aspect of the architecture developed at Georgia Tech is that this dielectric layer uses two components, a fluoropolymer and a metal-oxide layer.

“When we first developed this architecture, this metal oxide layer was aluminum oxide, which is susceptible to damage from humidity,” said Canek Fuentes-Hernandez, a senior research scientist and coauthor of the paper. “Working in collaboration with Georgia Tech Professor Samuel Graham, we developed complex nanolaminate barriers which could be produced at temperatures below 110 degrees Celsius and that when used as gate dielectric, enabled transistors to sustain being immersed in water near its boiling point.”

The new Georgia Tech architecture uses alternating layers of aluminum oxide and hafnium oxide – five layers of one, then five layers of the other, repeated 30 times atop the fluoropolymer – to make the dielectric. The oxide layers are produced with atomic layer deposition (ALD). The nanolaminate, which ends up being about 50 nanometers thick, is virtually immune to the effects of humidity.

“While we knew this architecture yielded good barrier properties, we were blown away by how stably transistors operated with the new architecture,” said Fuentes-Hernandez. “The performance of these transistors remained virtually unchanged even when we operated them for hundreds of hours and at elevated temperatures of 75 degrees Celsius. This was by far the most stable organic-based transistor we had ever fabricated.”

For the laboratory demonstration, the researchers used a glass substrate, but many other flexible materials – including polymers and even paper – could also be used.

In the lab, the researchers used standard ALD growth techniques to produce the nanolaminate. But newer processes referred to as spatial ALD – utilizing multiple heads with nozzles delivering the precursors – could accelerate production and allow the devices to be scaled up in size. “ALD has now reached a level of maturity at which it has become a scalable industrial process, and we think this will allow a new phase in the development of organic thin-film transistors,” Kippelen said.

An obvious application is for the transistors that control pixels in organic light-emitting displays (OLEDs) used in such devices as the iPhone X and Samsung phones. These pixels are now controlled by transistors fabricated with conventional inorganic semiconductors, but with the additional stability provided by the new nanolaminate, they could perhaps be made with printable organic thin-film transistors instead.

Internet of things (IoT) devices could also benefit from fabrication enabled by the new technology, allowing production with inkjet printers and other low-cost printing and coating processes. The nanolaminate technique could also allow development of inexpensive paper-based devices, such as smart tickets, that would use antennas, displays and memory fabricated on paper through low-cost processes.

But the most dramatic applications could be in very large flexible displays that could be rolled up when not in use.

“We will get better image quality, larger size and better resolution,” Kippelen said. “As these screens become larger, the rigid form factor of conventional displays will be a limitation. Low processing temperature carbon-based technology will allow the screen to be rolled up, making it easy to carry around and less susceptible to damage.

For their demonstration, Kippelen’s team – which also includes Xiaojia Jia, Cheng-Yin Wang and Youngrak Park – used a model organic semiconductor. The material has well-known properties, but with carrier mobility values of 1.6 cm2/Vs isn’t the fastest available. As a next step, they researchers would like to test their process on newer organic semiconductors that provide higher charge mobility. They also plan to continue testing the nanolaminate under different bending conditions, across longer time periods, and in other device platforms such as photodetectors.

Though the carbon-based electronics are expanding their device capabilities, traditional materials like silicon have nothing to fear.

“When it comes to high speeds, crystalline materials like silicon or gallium nitride will certainly have a bright and very long future,” said Kippelen. “But for many future printed applications, a combination of the latest organic semiconductor with higher charge mobility and the nanostructured gate dielectric will provide a very powerful device technology.”

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Researchers propose new gas-solid reaction for high-speed perovskite photodetector

A recent paper published in NANO showed the gas-solid reaction method provides a full coverage of the perovskite film and avoids damage from the organic solvent, which is beneficial for light capture and electrons transportation, resulting in a faster response time and stability for perovskite photodetectors.

A schematic illustration of hybrid perovskite photoconductivity visible region detector with high speed and high stability. The gas-solid reaction in replace of the traditional solution methods provides a non-solvent environment during the reaction process, constructs a high crystallization and a full coverage film to increase the light capture and transportation, as well as enhance a good stability in the humidity condition, leading to a high response performance for the photodetector. Credit: Dr. Guoqing Tong

A schematic illustration of hybrid perovskite photoconductivity visible region detector with high speed and high stability. The gas-solid reaction in replace of the traditional solution methods provides a non-solvent environment during the reaction process, constructs a high crystallization and a full coverage film to increase the light capture and transportation, as well as enhance a good stability in the humidity condition, leading to a high response performance for the photodetector. Credit: Dr. Guoqing Tong

Pervoskite materials have long been considered candidates in the semiconductor manufacturing due to their characteristics of high light absorption, carrier mobility and wider light spectrum. They are widely applied in solar cells, light-emitted devices and photodetectors. However, the organic solvent in the traditional solution method will damage the perovskite film and form unstable phases during the synthesis process, which makes the perovskite film decompose quickly in wet conditions, limiting the practical application of perovskite devices. Considering the significant influence of the solvent, a team of researchers from Dongchang college of Liaocheng University and Hefei University of Technology proposed a new gas-solid process to fabricate the perovskite film. This non-solvent approach provides high crystallization and full coverage film in lower vacuum and low temperature systems.

The researchers investigated the morphology, light absorption and the crystal phases of the perovskite film at the different annealing temperature after gas-reaction to obtain the high-quality perovskite film. The devices exhibited high responsivity and detectivity of 5.87AW-1 and 1012 Jones. The response time of the device is estimated to be 248 μs/207 μs, which is faster than most previous reports via the solution method. Remarkably, the responsivity and detectivity are estimated to be 0.26 AW-1, 2.13×1010 Jones after lasting exposure in air (25oC, RH~40%) for up to two months. This improvement of the stability of the devices demonstrates that the well-controlled vapor deposition method allows a thorough removal of the residual solvents (i.e. DMF, DMSO et. al) and thus effectively promotes a high-quality crystallization of perovskite grains, reducing the metastable phases among the thin films.

This work was financed by Science and Technology Plan Project of Shandong Higher Education Institutions, NSFC and Open Research Fund of State Key Laboratory of Pulsed Power Laser Technology of China.

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Expanded SiC Schottky diode line from Littelfuse reduces switching losses, increases efficiency and robustness

Littelfuse, Inc. today introduced four new series of 1200V silicon carbide (SiC) Schottky Diodes from its GEN2 product family, which was originally released in May 2017.

The LSIC2SD120A08 Series, LSIC2SD120A15 Series, and LSIC2SD120A20 Series offer current ratings of 8A, 15A ,20A, respectively and are provided in the popular TO-220-2L package. Additionally, the LSIC2SD120C08 Series offers a current rating of 8A in a TO-252-2L package. The merged p-n Schottky (MPS) device architecture of the GEN2 SiC Schottky Diodes enhances surge capability and reduces leakage current. Replacing standard silicon bipolar power diodes with the new GEN2 SiC Schottky Diodes allows circuit designers to reduce switching losses dramatically, accommodate large surge currents without thermal runaway, and operate at junction temperatures as high as 175°C. This allows for substantial increases in power electronics system efficiency and robustness.

Typical applications for these new GEN2 SiC Schottky Diodes include:

  • Active power factor correction (PFC).
  • Buck or boost stages in DC-DC converters.
  • Free-wheeling diodes in inverter stages.
  • High-frequency output rectification.

The markets they can serve include industrial power supplies, solar energy, industrial motor drives, welding and plasma cutting, EV charging stations, inductive cooking fields and many others.

“The latest GEN2 SiC Schottky Diodes are ideal solutions for circuit designers who need to reduce switching losses, accommodate large surge currents without thermal runaway, and operate at higher junction temperatures,” said Michael Ketterer, Global Product Marketing Manager, Power Semiconductors at Littelfuse. “They expand the component options available to circuit designers striving to improve the efficiency, reliability, and thermal management of the latest power electronics systems.”

LSIC2SD120A08 Series, LSIC2SD120A15 Series, and LSIC2SD120A20 Series GEN2 1200V SiC Schottky Diodes are available in TO-220-2L packages in tubes in quantities of 1,000. Meanwhile,LSIC2SD120C08 Series GEN2 1200V SiC Schottky Diodes are available in TO-252-2L package in tape and reel in quantities of 2,500.  Sample requests may be placed through authorized Littelfuse distributors worldwide.

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2018 will see first uses of 8K resolution display

As the demand for super-large TV displays grow, the need for higher resolution is set to increase, seeing the first uses of 8K display in 2018, according to IHS Markit (Nasdaq: INFO).

While ultra-high definition (UHD) panels are estimated to account for more than 98 percent of the 60-inch and larger display market in 2017, most TV panel suppliers are planning to mass produce 8K displays in 2018. The 7680 x 4320 pixel resolution display is expected to make up about 1 percent of the 60-inch and larger display market this year and 9 percent in 2020, according to the Display Long-term Demand Forecast Tracker report by IHS Markit.

60-inch_and_larger_TV_panel_shipment_forecast_by_resolution

“As UHD has rapidly replaced full HD in the super large-sized TV display market, panel makers are willing to supply differentiated products with higher resolution and improve profit margin with premium products,” said Ricky Park, director at IHS Markit. “Year 2018 will become the first year of the 8K resolution TV display.”

Innolux started developing 8K panels in 2017 and produced its first ever 8K LCD TV display (60Hz, 65-inch) in the fourth quarter of 2017. The display will be supplied to Sharp TV and Chinese brands in the beginning. Meanwhile, Sharp has also mass produced its first 8K LCD TV display at 70-inch in the last quarter of 2017 to support the Sharp TV brand in China.

Looking at the 8K display roadmap in 2018, it appears that Samsung Electronics and Sony are driving the market at this time. They plan to release their flagship 8K TV models in 2018. Samsung and Sony will consume almost all 120Hz 8K panels from Innolux, AUO and Samsung Display, with sizes varying from 65 to 75 and 85 inches.

BOE and CEC-Panda are now planning to develop 8K LCD TV panels in the second half of 2018 and taking on a differentiation strategy, LG Display will likely focus on developing OLED 8K panel in the future. LG Display unveiled the world’s first 88-inch 8K OLED TV display at CES 2018.

Based on current plans, panel makers in the early stages of development will mostly develop 60Hz 8K displays based on a-Si technology, and those in the next stages are also likely to develop 120Hz 8K displays based on oxide technology. The latter has advantages, such as better aperture ratio and lower power consumption.

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Picosun provides 300mm ALD technology for green power electronics

Picosun Oy, a supplier of Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) thin film coating technology for global industries, partners with STMicroelectronics S.r.l. to develop the next generation 300mm production solutions for advanced power electronics.

Power electronic components are right at the heart of many core elements of our society, where energy saving, sparing use of natural resources, and CO2 emission reductions are called for to provide for sustainable future. Energy production with renewables such as wind and solar, clean transportation with electric vehicles and trains, and industrial manufacturing with energy-smart power management and factory automation are key markets where the demand for advanced power components is increasing.

Most power semiconductor industries use 200 mm wafers as substrates. Transfer to 300 mm enables more efficient, ecological, and economical production through larger throughputs with relatively smaller material losses, and adaptation of novel manufacturing processes such as ALD allows smaller chip sizes with increased level of integration.

As a part of the funded project R3-POWERUP (*), Picosun’s PICOPLATFORM™ 300 ALD cluster tool will be optimized and validated for 300 mm production of power electronic components. The SEMI S2 certified PICOPLATFORM™ 300 cluster tool consists of two PICOSUN™ P-300S ALD reactors, one dedicated for high-k dielectric oxides and one for nitrides, connected together and operated under constant vacuum with a central vacuum robot substrate handling unit. The ALD reactors are equipped with Picosun’s proprietary Picoflow™ feature which enables conformal ALD depositions in high aspect ratios up to 1:2500 and even beyond. Substrate loading is realized with an EFEM with FOUP ports. The fully automated cluster tool can be integrated into the production line and connected to factory host via SECS/GEM interface.

“Our PICOPLATFORM™ 300 cluster tools have already proven their strength in conventional IC applications, so expansion to the power semiconductors is only natural. We are very pleased to work with a company such as STMicroelectronics to tailor and validate our 300mm ALD production solutions to this rapidly growing market. This is also a prime opportunity both to contribute to the future of European semiconductor industries, and to utilize ALD to provide technological solutions to the global ecological and societal challenges such as climate change and dwindling natural resources,” summarizes Juhana Kostamo, Managing Director of Picosun.

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Nanostructured gate dielectric boosts stability of organic thin-film transistors

A nanostructured gate dielectric may have addressed the most significant obstacle to expanding the use of organic semiconductors for thin-film transistors. The structure, composed of a fluoropolymer layer followed by a nanolaminate made from two metal oxide materials, serves as gate dielectric and simultaneously protects the organic semiconductor – which had previously been vulnerable to damage from the ambient environment – and enables the transistors to operate with unprecedented stability.

Image shows organic-thin film transistors with a nanostructured gate dielectric under continuous testing on a probe station. (Credit: Rob Felt, Georgia Tech)

Image shows organic-thin film transistors with a nanostructured gate dielectric under continuous testing on a probe station. (Credit: Rob Felt, Georgia Tech)

The new structure gives thin-film transistors stability comparable to those made with inorganic materials, allowing them to operate in ambient conditions – even underwater. Organic thin-film transistors can be made inexpensively at low temperature on a variety of flexible substrates using techniques such as inkjet printing, potentially opening new applications that take advantage of simple, additive fabrication processes.

“We have now proven a geometry that yields lifetime performance that for the first time establish that organic circuits can be as stable as devices produced with conventional inorganic technologies,” said Bernard Kippelen, the Joseph M. Pettit professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) and director of Georgia Tech’s Center for Organic Photonics and Electronics (COPE). “This could be the tipping point for organic thin-film transistors, addressing long-standing concerns about the stability of organic-based printable devices.”

The research was reported January 12 in the journal Science Advances. The research is the culmination of 15 years of development within COPE and was supported by sponsors including the Office of Naval Research, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and the National Nuclear Security Administration.

Transistors comprise three electrodes. The source and drain electrodes pass current to create the “on” state, but only when a voltage is applied to the gate electrode, which is separated from the organic semiconductor material by a thin dielectric layer. A unique aspect of the architecture developed at Georgia Tech is that this dielectric layer uses two components, a fluoropolymer and a metal-oxide layer.

“When we first developed this architecture, this metal oxide layer was aluminum oxide, which is susceptible to damage from humidity,” said Canek Fuentes-Hernandez, a senior research scientist and coauthor of the paper. “Working in collaboration with Georgia Tech Professor Samuel Graham, we developed complex nanolaminate barriers which could be produced at temperatures below 110 degrees Celsius and that when used as gate dielectric, enabled transistors to sustain being immersed in water near its boiling point.”

The new Georgia Tech architecture uses alternating layers of aluminum oxide and hafnium oxide – five layers of one, then five layers of the other, repeated 30 times atop the fluoropolymer – to make the dielectric. The oxide layers are produced with atomic layer deposition (ALD). The nanolaminate, which ends up being about 50 nanometers thick, is virtually immune to the effects of humidity.

“While we knew this architecture yielded good barrier properties, we were blown away by how stably transistors operated with the new architecture,” said Fuentes-Hernandez. “The performance of these transistors remained virtually unchanged even when we operated them for hundreds of hours and at elevated temperatures of 75 degrees Celsius. This was by far the most stable organic-based transistor we had ever fabricated.”

For the laboratory demonstration, the researchers used a glass substrate, but many other flexible materials – including polymers and even paper – could also be used.

In the lab, the researchers used standard ALD growth techniques to produce the nanolaminate. But newer processes referred to as spatial ALD – utilizing multiple heads with nozzles delivering the precursors – could accelerate production and allow the devices to be scaled up in size. “ALD has now reached a level of maturity at which it has become a scalable industrial process, and we think this will allow a new phase in the development of organic thin-film transistors,” Kippelen said.

An obvious application is for the transistors that control pixels in organic light-emitting displays (OLEDs) used in such devices as the iPhone X and Samsung phones. These pixels are now controlled by transistors fabricated with conventional inorganic semiconductors, but with the additional stability provided by the new nanolaminate, they could perhaps be made with printable organic thin-film transistors instead.

Internet of things (IoT) devices could also benefit from fabrication enabled by the new technology, allowing production with inkjet printers and other low-cost printing and coating processes. The nanolaminate technique could also allow development of inexpensive paper-based devices, such as smart tickets, that would use antennas, displays and memory fabricated on paper through low-cost processes.

But the most dramatic applications could be in very large flexible displays that could be rolled up when not in use.

“We will get better image quality, larger size and better resolution,” Kippelen said. “As these screens become larger, the rigid form factor of conventional displays will be a limitation. Low processing temperature carbon-based technology will allow the screen to be rolled up, making it easy to carry around and less susceptible to damage.

For their demonstration, Kippelen’s team – which also includes Xiaojia Jia, Cheng-Yin Wang and Youngrak Park – used a model organic semiconductor. The material has well-known properties, but with carrier mobility values of 1.6 cm2/Vs isn’t the fastest available. As a next step, they researchers would like to test their process on newer organic semiconductors that provide higher charge mobility. They also plan to continue testing the nanolaminate under different bending conditions, across longer time periods, and in other device platforms such as photodetectors.

Though the carbon-based electronics are expanding their device capabilities, traditional materials like silicon have nothing to fear.

“When it comes to high speeds, crystalline materials like silicon or gallium nitride will certainly have a bright and very long future,” said Kippelen. “But for many future printed applications, a combination of the latest organic semiconductor with higher charge mobility and the nanostructured gate dielectric will provide a very powerful device technology.”

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