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A high-mobility electron-transporting polymer for printed transistors

Abstract

Printed electronics is a revolutionary technology aimed at unconventional electronic device manufacture on plastic foils, and will probably rely on polymeric semiconductors for organic thin-film transistor (OTFT) fabrication. In addition to having excellent charge-transport characteristics in ambient conditions, such materials must meet other key requirements, such as chemical stability, large solubility in common solvents, and inexpensive solution and/or low-temperature processing. Furthermore, compatibility of both p-channel (hole-transporting) and n-channel (electron-transporting) semiconductors with a single combination of gate dielectric and contact materials is highly desirable to enable powerful complementary circuit technologies, where p- and n-channel OTFTs operate in concert. Polymeric complementary circuits operating in ambient conditions are currently difficult to realize: although excellent p-channel polymers are widely available, the achievement of high-performance n-channel polymers is more challenging. Here we report a highly soluble (60 g l-1) and printable n-channel polymer exhibiting unprecedented OTFT characteristics (electron mobilities up to 0.45–0.85 cm2 V-1 s-1) under ambient conditions in combination with Au contacts and various polymeric dielectrics. Several top-gate OTFTs on plastic substrates were fabricated with the semiconductor-dielectric layers deposited by spin-coating as well as by gravure, flexographic and inkjet printing, demonstrating great processing versatility. Finally, all-printed polymeric complementary inverters (with gain 25–65) have been demonstrated.

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Figure 1: Organic thin-film transistor structure, fabrication and operational principles.
Figure 2: Performance in ambient conditions of representative TGBC TFT devices with spin-coated P(NDI2OD-T2) semiconductor and various dielectric layers.
Figure 3: Stability and bias stress in ambient of representative TGBC TFTs with spin-coated P(NDI2OD-T2) semiconductor and several gate dielectrics.
Figure 4: P(NDI2OD-T2) film morphologies and TGBC TFT performance for polymer films/devices fabricated using various solution-processing techniques on PET/Au substrates.
Figure 5: P3HT (p-channel)-P(NDI2OD-T2) (n-channel) complementary inverters.

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Acknowledgements

We thank P. Inagaki for his leadership, T. J. Marks for discussions and P. Eckerle and BASF Future Business for their support.

Author Contributions H.Y. supervised device fabrication and analysis, performed the humidity tests, and fabricated the complementary inverters. Z.C. designed and synthesized the semiconductor polymer. Y.Z. fabricated the devices by spin-coating and monitored the stability in ambient conditions. C.N. fabricated most of the gravure- and inkjet-printed devices and acquired all AFM images. J.Q. optimized NDI monomer and dielectric synthesis. F.D. and M.K. supported the synthetic efforts. A.F. directed the project and wrote the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Antonio Facchetti.

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Yan, H., Chen, Z., Zheng, Y. et al. A high-mobility electron-transporting polymer for printed transistors. Nature 457, 679–686 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature07727

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