Thin-film field-effect transistors are essential elements of stretchable electronic devices for wearable electronics1,2. All of the materials and components of such transistors need to be stretchable and mechanically robust3,4. Although there has been recent progress towards stretchable conductors5,6,7,8, the realization of stretchable semiconductors has focused mainly on strain-accommodating engineering of materials, or blending of nanofibres or nanowires into elastomers9,10,11. An alternative approach relies on using semiconductors that are intrinsically stretchable, so that they can be fabricated using standard processing methods12. Molecular stretchability can be enhanced when conjugated polymers, containing modified side-chains and segmented backbones, are infused with more flexible molecular building blocks13,14. Here we present a design concept for stretchable semiconducting polymers, which involves introducing chemical moieties to promote dynamic non-covalent crosslinking of the conjugated polymers. These non-covalent crosslinking moieties are able to undergo an energy dissipation mechanism through breakage of bonds when strain is applied, while retaining high charge transport abilities. As a result, our polymer is able to recover its high field-effect mobility performance (more than 1 square centimetre per volt per second) even after a hundred cycles at 100 per cent applied strain. Organic thin-film field-effect transistors fabricated from these materials exhibited mobility as high as 1.3 square centimetres per volt per second and a high on/off current ratio exceeding a million. The field-effect mobility remained as high as 1.12 square centimetres per volt per second at 100 per cent strain along the direction perpendicular to the strain. The field-effect mobility of damaged devices can be almost fully recovered after a solvent and thermal healing treatment. Finally, we successfully fabricated a skin-inspired stretchable organic transistor operating under deformations that might be expected in a wearable device.
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This work was supported by Samsung Electronics and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (grant number FA9550-15-1-0106). S.R.-G. acknowledges the Fonds de Recherche Québécois, Nature et Technologie (FRQNT) for a postdoctoral fellowship. Y.-C.C. acknowledges the Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan, for partial financial support (project 104-2923-E-002-003-MY3). F.L. thanks the Swiss National Science Foundation for an Early Mobility Postdoc grant. B.C.S. acknowledges the National Research Fund of Luxembourg for financial support (project 6932623). J.L. acknowledges support from the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program under grant DGE-114747. T. Kurosawa acknowledges support from the Office of Naval Research (N00014-14-1-0142). X.G. acknowledges support from the Bridging Research Interactions through the collaborative Development Grants in Energy (BRIDGE) programme under the SunShot initiative of the Department of Energy (contract DE-FOA-0000654-1588). Use of the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, is supported by the US Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences under contract DE-AC02-76SF00515. X-ray diffraction studies were performed at the Stanford Nano Shared Facilities.
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