Researchers devise new manufacturing technique to fabricate flexible electronics

Industry Insights

For years, engineers have been aiming for ultrathin, flexible computer circuits, but technical obstacles have been preventing the required degree of miniaturization to attain high performance. In the continued effort to attain this, researchers at Stanford University have discovered a manufacturing technique that creates flexible, yet atomically thin transistors of length below 100 nanometers. This is several times smaller than techniques that were previously used, and is presented in a paper published in Nature Electronics.

With the advancement, so-called Flextronics are one step closer to reality, said researchers. Importantly, flexible electronics promise shapeable, bendable, yet energy efficient computer circuits that can be implanted or worn in the human body to carry out a large number of health related tasks.

Therefore, this and IoT, which makes every device in our lives interconnected and integrated with flexible electronics, should have the same benefit from flexotronics.

Meanwhile, among a number of materials, two-dimensional semiconductors have surfaced to be most suitable and promising because of their excellent electrical and mechanical properties. This makes these materials better candidates than conventional organic or silicon materials, even at the nanoscale.

To date, the engineering challenge to form these almost impossible thin devices requires a process that is extremely heat intensive for the flexible plastic substrates. This would result in the flexible materials to simply melt and decompose in the production process.

To make the best of the technique, the solution is to do it in steps, beginning with a base substrate which is flexible, if anything else.

The research team formed an atomically thin film of 2D semiconductor molybdenum disulfide on top of a solid slab of silicon coated with glass.

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