Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Inkjet printing of single-crystal films


The use of single crystals has been fundamental to the development of semiconductor microelectronics and solid-state science1. Whether based on inorganic2,3,4,5 or organic6,7,8 materials, the devices that show the highest performance rely on single-crystal interfaces, with their nearly perfect translational symmetry and exceptionally high chemical purity. Attention has recently been focused on developing simple ways of producing electronic devices by means of printing technologies. ‘Printed electronics’ is being explored for the manufacture of large-area and flexible electronic devices by the patterned application of functional inks containing soluble or dispersed semiconducting materials9,10,11. However, because of the strong self-organizing tendency of the deposited materials12,13, the production of semiconducting thin films of high crystallinity (indispensable for realizing high carrier mobility) may be incompatible with conventional printing processes. Here we develop a method that combines the technique of antisolvent crystallization14 with inkjet printing to produce organic semiconducting thin films of high crystallinity. Specifically, we show that mixing fine droplets of an antisolvent and a solution of an active semiconducting component within a confined area on an amorphous substrate can trigger the controlled formation of exceptionally uniform single-crystal or polycrystalline thin films that grow at the liquid–air interfaces. Using this approach, we have printed single crystals of the organic semiconductor 2,7-dioctyl[1]benzothieno[3,2-b][1]benzothiophene (C8-BTBT) (ref. 15), yielding thin-film transistors with average carrier mobilities as high as 16.4 cm2 V−1 s−1. This printing technique constitutes a major step towards the use of high-performance single-crystal semiconductor devices for large-area and flexible electronics applications.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Inkjet printing of organic single-crystal thin films.
Figure 2: Synchrotron-radiated single-crystal X-ray diffraction and polarized absorption spectra.
Figure 3: Transistor characteristics for the inkjet-printed C 8 -BTBT single-crystal thin films.


  1. 1

    Teal, G. K. Single crystals of germanium and silicon—basic to the transistor and integrated circuit. IEEE Trans. Electron. Dev. 23, 621–639 (1976)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    Tsui, D. C., Stormer, H. L. & Gossard, A. C. Two-dimensional magnetotransport in the extreme quantum limit. Phys. Rev. Lett. 48, 1559–1562 (1982)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    De Poortere, E. P. et al. Enhanced electron mobility and high order fractional quantum Hall states in AlAs quantum wells. Appl. Phys. Lett. 80, 1583–1585 (2002)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    Ohtomo, A. & Hwang, H. Y. A high-mobility electron gas at the LaAlO3/SrTiO3 heterointerface. Nature 427, 423–426 (2004)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    Tsukazaki, A. et al. Observation of the fractional quantum Hall effect in an oxide. Nature Mater. 9, 889–893 (2010)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6

    Sundar, V. C. et al. Elastomeric transistor stamps: reversible probing of charge transport in organic crystals. Science 303, 1644–1646 (2004)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7

    Briseno, A. L. et al. Patterning organic single-crystal transistor arrays. Nature 444, 913–917 (2006)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8

    Takeya, J. et al. Very high-mobility organic single-crystal transistors with in-crystal conduction channel. Appl. Phys. Lett. 90, 102120 (2007)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9

    Yan, H. et al. A high-mobility electron-transporting polymer for printed transistors. Nature 457, 679–686 (2009)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10

    Rivnay, J. et al. Large modulation of carrier transport by grain-boundary molecular packing and microstructure in organic thin films. Nature Mater. 8, 952–958 (2009)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11

    Noh, Y.-Y., Zhao, N., Caironi, M. & Sirringhaus, H. Downscaling of self-aligned, all-printed polymer thin-film transistors. Nature Nanotechnol. 2, 784–789 (2007)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12

    Whitesides, G. M. & Grzybowski, B. Self-assembly at all scales. Science 295, 2418–2421 (2002)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13

    Lim, J. A., Lee, H. S., Lee, W. H. & Cho, K. Control of the morphology and structural development of solution-processed functionalized acenes for high-performance organic transistors. Adv. Funct. Mater. 19, 1515–1525 (2009)

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14

    Tung, H.-H., Paul, E. L., Midler, M. & McCauley, J. A. Crystallization of Organic Compounds: An Industrial Perspective 179–205 (Wiley, 2009)

    Book  Google Scholar 

  15. 15

    Ebata, H. et al. Highly soluble [1]benzothieno[3,2-b]benzothiophene (BTBT) derivatives for high-performance, solution-processed organic field-effect transistors. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 129, 15732–15733 (2007)

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16

    Hiraoka, M. et al. On-substrate synthesis of molecular conductor films and circuits. Adv. Mater. 19, 3248–3251 (2007)

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17

    Hasegawa, T., Hiraoka, M. & Yamada, T. Double-shot inkjet printing of donor–acceptor-type organic charge-transfer complexes: wet/nonwet definition and its use for contact engineering. Thin Solid Films 518, 3988–3991 (2010)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18

    Sirringhaus, H. et al. High-resolution inkjet printing of all-polymer transistor circuits. Science 290, 2123–2126 (2000)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19

    Chen, Z., Liu, M., Liu, G.-y. & Tan, L. Evaporation induced two-dimensional buckling within liquid droplet. Appl. Phys. Lett. 95, 223104 (2009)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20

    Deegan, R. D. et al. Capillary flow as the cause of ring stains from dried liquid drops. Nature 389, 827–829 (1997)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21

    Uemura, T., Hirose, Y., Uno, M., Takimiya, K. & Takeya, J. Very high mobility in solution-processed organic thin-film transistors of highly ordered [1]benzothieno[3,2-b]benzothiophene derivatives. Appl. Phys. Expr. 2, 111501 (2009)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22

    Izawa, T., Miyazaki, E. & Takimiya, K. Molecular ordering of high-performance soluble molecular semiconductors and re-evaluation of their field-effect transistor characteristics. Adv. Mater. 20, 3388–3392 (2008)

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23

    Pope, M. & Swenberg, C. E. Electronic Processes in Organic Crystals and Polymers 2nd edn, 59–66 (Oxford Science, 1999)

    Google Scholar 

  24. 24

    Faltermeier, D., Gompf, B., Dressel, M., Tripathi, A. K. & Pflaum, J. Optical properties of pentacene thin films and single crystals. Phys. Rev. B 74, 125416 (2006)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25

    Ulman, A. An Introduction to Ultrathin Organic Films, from Langmuir-Blodgett to Self-Assembly 1st edn (Academic, 1991)

    Google Scholar 

  26. 26

    deMello, A. J. Control and detection of chemical reactions in microfluidic systems. Nature 442, 394–402 (2006)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


We are grateful to Nippon Kayaku for providing C8-BTBT. We thank K. Takimiya and S. Horiuchi for discussions, H. Okamoto and H. Matsuzaki for help with optical measurements, K. Kobayashi for help with the X-ray measurements, and T. Iwadate for help with atomic-force microscopy and measurements of device characteristics. The synchrotron X-ray study was performed with the approval of the Photon Factory Program Advisory Committee (no. 2009S2-003). This work was supported by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) through a Grant for Industrial Technology Research and also by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) through its Funding Program for World-Leading Innovative R&D on Science and Technology (FIRST Program).

Author information




H. Minemawari was responsible for ink fabrication, inkjet printing, microscopic observations, X-ray diffraction measurements, and measurements of the device characteristics of all the films. T.Y. prepared substrates with the wet/non-wet surface patterning, assisted in inkjet printing and X-ray diffraction measurements, and performed atomic-force microscopy and device characteristics measurements. H. Matsui guided sample preparation and inkjet printing, and conducted DFT molecular orbital calculations. J.T. assisted with X-ray diffraction measurements and performed optical anisotropic absorption measurements. S.H. assisted with optical anisotropic absorption measurements. R.C. assisted in the ink fabrication. R.K. assisted with X-ray diffraction measurements. T.H. conceptualized and directed the research project, and wrote most of the manuscript. All the authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Tatsuo Hasegawa.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

The file contains Supplementary text and Supplementary Figures 1-5 with legends. (PDF 1373 kb)

Supplementary Movie 1

The movie shows a top view of the droplet deposited by the AC-IJP on top of the predefined hydrophilic area containing a protuberance, in which the growth process of single-crystal film can be observed. (MOV 3121 kb)

Supplementary Movie 2

The movie shows a top view of the droplet deposited by the AC-IJP on top of the predefined hydrophilic area with a rectangle shape, in which the growth process of polycrystalline film can be observed. (MOV 9088 kb)

PowerPoint slides

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Minemawari, H., Yamada, T., Matsui, H. et al. Inkjet printing of single-crystal films. Nature 475, 364–367 (2011).

Download citation

Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing