Organic Field-Effect Transistors (OFETs) were originally developed to produce extremely low-cost, large-area electronics aimed at producing printable and flexible electronic devices.
Researchers at Japan’s National Institute for Materials Science say improvements are now in the offing that will allow for the manufacture of transistors which can be used to make highly flexible and paper-thin computer screens and displays.
These photoactive organic field-effect transistors incorporate organic semi-conductors, can amplify weak electronic signals, and then either emit or receive light. And since their appearance on the scene in 2003, researchers say that enormous steps forward have been made in the development of one variant: light-emitting organic field-effect transistors (LE-OFETs).
The photoactive OFETs are divided into two types; light-emitting (LE) and light-receiving (LR) OFETs. They are categorized according to functionality. The devices can function as non-volatile optical memories, phototransistors, and photochromism-based transistors.
In both cases a variety of configurations can produce devices like thin-film based transistors for practical applications and nanowiring.
And here’s where the technology gets truly interesting. Light-receiving organic field-effect transistors will break new ground for photonic and electronic devices and result in the creation of flexible displays where all the various device components (light-emitting elements, switching parts and the substrates) – are made of plastic materials.
For the most part, plastic materials mean “3D printable” materials.
As those materials have already been created and are expected to appear on the market in the near term, LE-OFETs are thought to be completely compatible with existing and popular electronic technologies.
The Japanese researchers say the performance of devices which incorporate both light-emitting and light-receiving transistors is currently hampered by a number of issues, and that collaborative effort among organic chemists and device physicists will be required to resolve those stumbling blocks.
While the team say it may take ten years before all-plastic and highly flexible computing devices appear on the market, the technology is already attracting interest from a wide range of interested parties.
Yutaka Wakayama of the International Center for Materials Nanoarchitectonics (WPI-MANA) and the National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) worked in conjunction with Ryoma Hayakawa and Hoon-Seok Seo on the research.
Can you see applications of OFET technology in the 3D printing sphere? Let us know your thoughts in the 3D Printed Flexible Computer forum thread on 3DPB.com.