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Transparent transistor   (Source: ACS Nano)
The team used nanopaper for smoothness and transparency

Scientists from the University of Maryland have come a step closer to creating lightweight electronics using a paper-like material.

The team, led by materials scientist Liangbing Hu, has combined a paper-like material called nanopaper and tools for electric connections like carbon nanotubes to create renewable electronic devices.

Paper-based circuits are nothing new, but paper is usually difficult to work with because the surface is rigid and opaque. Electrons need to travel easily throughout the conducting and semiconducting materials in order to work correctly.

To remedy this, Hu and the team created nanopaper out of nanoscale fibers with a diameter of only 10 nanometers. The paper was made by treating paper pulp with oxidizing chemicals, and the result was a completely flat piece of paper that is transparent.

From there, transistors were built on the nanopaper using three layers of materials, including carbon nanotubes (to prevent wrinkling in the paper), an insulating organic molecule and a semiconducting organic molecule. It was then topped with electrodes.

The end result was a thin, lightweight electronic material that was 84 percent transparent and lost very little performance when bent. However, Hu said that further reduction of wrinkling after the solvents evaporate during the fabrication process could make this even more efficient.

This study was published in ACS Nano.

Source: Chemical & Engineering News





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