Sean Doris, Palo Alto Research Center
Controlling the Electrical Properties of Organic Electronics: A Path Towards Low-Power Printed Electronics
Written by Aashutosh Mistry
Imagine if electronics can be printed on demand, humanity would enter a new era of customization. Not just that electronic circuits will be much more convenient to produce, smart objects can be conceived that amalgamate both printing of materials and circuits. Sean Doris and his colleagues at Palo Alto Research Center have been working on an organic electrochemical transistor (OECT), which they believe has the potential to revolutionize the way we think about electronic components and circuits. Such a device is based on principles of liquid-phase electrochemistry. The gate is essentially a thin electrode, which can be made to operate based on faradic or capacitive charge transfer across the electrode-electrolyte interface. Typical gate material is Ag/AgCl couple, with electrolyte being 0.1 M NaCl in water. Given the use of liquid phase electrochemistry, faster charge transfer can be achieved, resulting in smaller devices that can handle larger currents. In addition to threshold voltage, additional tuning opportunities are available via changes in temperature and/or ionic concentration. Though promising, this technology is in a nascent stage. Future improvements rely heavily on a better physical understanding of OECT operation as well as developing associated printing and fabrication technologies.