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Logic circuits composed of flexible carbon nanotube thin-film transistor and ultra-thin polymer gate dielectric

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      Abstract

      Printing electronics has become increasingly prominent in the field of electronic engineering because this method is highly efficient at producing flexible, low-cost and large-scale thin-film transistors. However, TFTs are typically constructed with rigid insulating layers consisting of oxides and nitrides that are brittle and require high processing temperatures, which can cause a number of problems when used in printed flexible TFTs. In this study, we address these issues and demonstrate a method of producing inkjet-printed TFTs that include an ultra-thin polymeric dielectric layer produced by initiated chemical vapor deposition (iCVD) at room temperature and highly purified 99.9% semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Our integrated approach enables the production of flexible logic circuits consisting of CNT-TFTs on a polyethersulfone (PES) substrate that have a high mobility (up to 9.76 cm 2 V −1 sec 1), a low operating voltage (less than 4 V), a high current on/off ratio (3 × 10 4), and a total device yield of 90%. Thus, it should be emphasized that this study delineates a guideline for the feasibility of producing flexible CNT-TFT logic circuits with high performance based on a low-cost and simple fabrication process.

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      Medium-scale carbon nanotube thin-film integrated circuits on flexible plastic substrates.

      The ability to form integrated circuits on flexible sheets of plastic enables attributes (for example conformal and flexible formats and lightweight and shock resistant construction) in electronic devices that are difficult or impossible to achieve with technologies that use semiconductor wafers or glass plates as substrates. Organic small-molecule and polymer-based materials represent the most widely explored types of semiconductors for such flexible circuitry. Although these materials and those that use films or nanostructures of inorganics have promise for certain applications, existing demonstrations of them in circuits on plastic indicate modest performance characteristics that might restrict the application possibilities. Here we report implementations of a comparatively high-performance carbon-based semiconductor consisting of sub-monolayer, random networks of single-walled carbon nanotubes to yield small- to medium-scale integrated digital circuits, composed of up to nearly 100 transistors on plastic substrates. Transistors in these integrated circuits have excellent properties: mobilities as high as 80 cm(2) V(-1) s(-1), subthreshold slopes as low as 140 m V dec(-1), operating voltages less than 5 V together with deterministic control over the threshold voltages, on/off ratios as high as 10(5), switching speeds in the kilohertz range even for coarse (approximately 100-microm) device geometries, and good mechanical flexibility-all with levels of uniformity and reproducibility that enable high-yield fabrication of integrated circuits. Theoretical calculations, in contexts ranging from heterogeneous percolative transport through the networks to compact models for the transistors to circuit level simulations, provide quantitative and predictive understanding of these systems. Taken together, these results suggest that sub-monolayer films of single-walled carbon nanotubes are attractive materials for flexible integrated circuits, with many potential areas of application in consumer and other areas of electronics.
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        Printed, sub-3V digital circuits on plastic from aqueous carbon nanotube inks.

        Printing electronic components on plastic foils with functional liquid inks is an attractive approach for achieving flexible and low-cost circuitry for applications such as bendable displays and large-area sensors. The challenges for printed electronics, however, include characteristically slow switching frequencies and associated high supply voltages, which together impede widespread application. Combining printable high-capacitance dielectrics with printable high-mobility semiconductors could potentially solve these problems. Here we demonstrate fast, flexible digital circuits based on semiconducting carbon nanotube (CNT) networks and high-capacitance ion gel gate dielectrics, which were patterned by jet printing of liquid inks. Ion gel-gated CNT thin-film transistors (TFTs) with 50 microm channel lengths display ambipolar transport with electron and hole mobilities >20 cm(2)/V.s; these devices form the basis of printed inverters, NAND gates, and ring oscillators on both polyimide and SiO(2) substrates. Five-stage ring oscillators achieve frequencies >2 kHz at supply voltages of 2.5 V, corresponding to stage delay times of 50 micros. This performance represents a substantial improvement for printed circuitry fabricated from functional liquid inks.
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          Fully printed, high performance carbon nanotube thin-film transistors on flexible substrates.

          Fully printed transistors are a key component of ubiquitous flexible electronics. In this work, the advantages of an inverse gravure printing technique and the solution processing of semiconductor-enriched single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) are combined to fabricate fully printed thin-film transistors on mechanically flexible substrates. The fully printed transistors are configured in a top-gate device geometry and utilize silver metal electrodes and an inorganic/organic high-κ (~17) gate dielectric. The devices exhibit excellent performance for a fully printed process, with mobility and on/off current ratio of up to ~9 cm(2)/(V s) and 10(5), respectively. Extreme bendability is observed, without measurable change in the electrical performance down to a small radius of curvature of 1 mm. Given the high performance of the transistors, our high-throughput printing process serves as an enabling nanomanufacturing scheme for a wide range of large-area electronic applications based on carbon nanotube networks.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]School of Electrical Engineering, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology , (KAIST) 291 Daehak-ro, Yuseong-gu, Daejeon, 34141, South Korea
            [2 ]School of Electrical Engineering, Kookmin University, Jeongneung-dong , Seongbuk-gu, Seoul, 02707, Republic of Korea
            [3 ]Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) , 291 Daehak-ro, Yuseong-gu, Daejeon 34141, South Korea
            [4 ]Graphene Research Center, KI for Nanocentury, KAIST , Daejeon, 34141, South Korea
            Author notes
            Journal
            Sci Rep
            Sci Rep
            Scientific Reports
            Nature Publishing Group
            2045-2322
            17 May 2016
            2016
            : 6
            27184121 4869014 srep26121 10.1038/srep26121
            Copyright © 2016, Macmillan Publishers Limited

            This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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