Plastic-based flexible electronics, produced in large volume using roll-to-roll processing, inkjet printing or spray deposition, represent the “electronics everywhere” trend of the future, a U.S. researcher says.

Oana Jurchescu, assistant professor of physics at Wake Forest, her graduate students Katelyn Goetz and Jeremy Ward, and interdisciplinary collaborators from Stanford University, Imperial College (London), University of Kentucky and Appalachian State University, have developed one such organic semiconductor.

They have developed, for the first time, an extremely large molecule that is stable, possesses excellent electrical properties, and inexpensive to produce.

The technology may eventually turn scientific wonders - including artificial skin, smart bandages, flexible displays, smart windshields, wearable electronics and electronic wallpapers - into everyday realities, they say.

Organic electronics build on carbon-based materials, which offer not only ease of manufacturing and low cost, but also lightweight and mechanical flexibility, says Jurchescu.

“The devices we study (field-effect transistors) are the fundamental building blocks in all modern-based electronics. Our findings shed light on the effect of the structure of the molecules on their electrical performance, and pave the way towards a design of improved materials for high-performance, low-cost, plastic-based electronics,” she added.

The study was recently published in Advanced Materials.

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