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Low-power carbon nanotube-based integrated circuits that can be transferred to biological surfaces

Abstract

Integrated circuits that can be interfaced with biological systems could expand the function of electronic devices, providing, for example, advanced forms of monitoring, diagnosis and therapy in clinical applications. However, limitations in the performance of electronic devices on flexible or biodegradable substrates constrain the complexity and power dissipation of such devices. Here, we report carbon nanotube-based thin-film transistors and integrated circuits that can be transferred to arbitrary surfaces. We show that this wafer-scale platform can be transferred to biodegradable polymers, plant leaves and a person's wrist, and demonstrate the operation of the transferred devices and circuits on a curved plant leaf. Our nanotube thin-film transistors on biodegradable flexible substrates have ultralow power consumption with an off-state current as low as 0.1 pA μm−1, a subthreshold swing of 62 mV dec−1, and a static power consumption of 2.5 × 10−13 W in an inverter. The thin-film transistors also exhibit highly uniform performance with an 80 mV standard deviation in the threshold voltages. Furthermore, we constructed a full adder integrated circuit, with rail-to-rail outputs and a read-only memory, on a flexible substrate that can be driven by a small single supply voltage of 2 V.

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Fig. 1: Fabrication process and bio-integration capability.
Fig. 2: Structures and electric properties of CNT TFTs.
Fig. 3: CNT TFTs after transfer and operation tests on a curved leaf.
Fig. 4: CNT inverters after transfer and operation tests on a curved leaf.
Fig. 5: Logic gates and ring oscillator characterization.
Fig. 6: ICs and ROM characterization.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grants nos. 61571016 and 61621061), the National Key Research & Development Program (grant no. 2016YFA0201901) and the ‘Thousand Talents’ Program for pioneer researchers.

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Contributions

L.X. and Y.F.H. conceived the experiments. L.X. fabricated the devices, performed the electrical measurements, and analysed and interpreted the data with input from Y.F.H., H.Z., D.L.Z., Z.Y.Z. and L.-M.P. G.D.D., J.H. and X.L.L. prepared the CNT solutions and thin films. The manuscript was written with contributions from all authors, and all authors approved the final version of the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Youfan Hu.

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Supplementary Information

Supplementary Note 1, Supplementary Figures 1–13 and Supplementary Table 1.

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Xiang, L., Zhang, H., Dong, G. et al. Low-power carbon nanotube-based integrated circuits that can be transferred to biological surfaces. Nat Electron 1, 237–245 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41928-018-0056-6

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