Researchers invent biodegradable semiconductor, now a bendable smartphone display as powerful as super-computers

Last Updated: Mon, Oct 08, 2018 14:20 hrs
Ankur Sharma Biodegradable display

If Ankur Sharma, a PhD researcher at Australian National University (ANU) is to be believed, the solution to electric waste ending up in landfills and water reservoirs could soon become a thing of the past.

Sharma and researchers from ANU have developed a flexible semiconductor using organic materials.

Their discovery is so efficient that the researchers claim that it can convert electricity into light, make bendable smartphones and offers super-computer like power to a smartphone. And yes, it promises to substantially reduce e-waste.

The organic component has the thickness of just one atom — made from just carbon and hydrogen — and forms part of the semiconductor. The inorganic component has the thickness of around two atoms.

And this hybrid structure can convert electricity into light efficiently for displays on mobile phones, televisions and other electronic devices.

"For the first time, we have developed an ultra-thin electronics component with excellent semiconducting properties that is an organic-inorganic hybrid structure and thin and flexible enough for future technologies, such as bendable mobile phones and display screens," said Larry Lu, associate professor at ANU.


The semiconducting material, which cannot be seen with the naked eye, placed between gold electrodes on the chip (pictured) that is a functional transistor. The chip can hold close to a thousand transistor circuits.

Sharma said experiments demonstrated that the performance of their semiconductor would be more efficient than conventional semiconductors that were made of inorganic materials such as silicon.

"We have the potential with this semiconductor to make mobile phones as powerful as today’s supercomputers," added Sharma.

He said, "the light emission from our semiconducting structure is very sharp, so it can be used for high-resolution displays and, since the materials are ultra-thin, they have the flexibility to be made into bendable screens and mobile phones in the near future."

The team grew the organic semiconductor component molecule by molecule, in a similar way to 3D printing. The process is called chemical vapour deposition.

"We characterized the opto-electronic and electrical properties of our invention to confirm the tremendous potential of it to be used as a future semiconductor component," Associate Professor Lu said.

"We are working on growing our semiconductor component on a large scale, so it can be commercialized in collaboration with prospective industry partners."

Here is a video of the research.

Image Credit: The image has been sourced from the website of the Australian National University. 

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