In a development that could accelerate architectural deployment of see-through surfaces with embedded circuitry, researchers from the Tokyo Institute of Technology have greatly improved the processing speed of transparent semiconductors, according to a report in the Nov. 25 issue of the journal Nature.
The new technology, an indium gallium zinc oxide mixture that can be deposited on plastic, is transparent and has the potential to perform between one and three orders of magnitude better than today's plastic transistors. The development is expected to greatly accelerate development of see-through displays and electronic paper, both of which require semiconductor devices that are transparent and flexible.
The Tokyo team says the material is also easy to manufacture and should be relatively inexpensive top manufacture, making it suitable for flat expanses of electronics such as massive display surfaces or walls with embedded networking, processors or controls. It can be applied in a very thin coating to a sheet of plastic at room temperature, the researchers said, meaning it could eventually be adapted to a variety of flexible, lightweight, shock resistant electronics, including flexible displays, electronic paper and wearable computers. The researchers added that the manufacturing process is environmentally friendly.
The researchers produced a semiconductor that has a carrier mobility of 10 square centimeters per volt second. Carrier mobility is a measure of how easily electricity moves through a material. Plastic semiconductors have carrier mobilities as high as 1 square centimeter per volt second, while the crystalline silicon used in typical computer chips has a carrier mobility of 1,500.
In the initial report in Nature, the research team said the transparent semiconductor could be used practically in two to four years.