Slightly bending semiconductors made of organic materials can roughly double the speed of electricity flowing through them and could benefit next-generation electronics such as sensors and solar cells.
Semiconductors include materials that conduct electricity and their conductivity can be tuned by different external stimuli, making them essential for all electronics. Organic semiconductors are made of organic molecules (mainly consisting of carbon and hydrogen atoms) that form light, flexible crystals called van der Waals molecular crystals. These novel materials are quite promising for applications in optoelectronics, which harness light and include flexible and printed electronics, sensors, and solar cells.
Traditional semiconductors made of silicon or germanium have limitations including cost and rigidity. One of the most important characteristics of organic and inorganic semiconductors is how fast electricity can flow through electronic devices. Thanks to progress over the past decade, organic semiconductors can perform roughly 10 times better than traditional amorphous silicon transistors.
Tuning semiconductors by bending them is called “strain engineering,” which would open a new avenue of development in the semiconductor industry if implemented successfully. But until now, there were no conclusive experimental results on how bending organic semiconductors, including those in transistors, may affect the speed of electricity flowing in them.
The study reports the first such measurement and a 1 percent bend in an organic transistor can roughly double the speed of electrons flowing through it.