Applications like GPS systems on the car windshield, and television screens that could be built into eyeglasses require transparent transistors in such devices, which therein lies the great challenge.

Recently, researchers at Purdue University, Northwestern University, and University of Southern California are working out designs on flexible, see-through transistors by employing zinc (II)-oxide and indium (III)-oxide nanowires into their designs, as opposed to the typical polycrystalline silicon transistors, which do not allow transparency. It is reported that the by using these two oxide nanowires, as well as aluminum oxide as the insulator, the resulting nanowire transistors on both glass and plastic substrates have an optical transmission of more than 80 percent.

The mobility of nanowire transistors is several hundred times better than amorphous silicon-based transistor. Because of the high current that is able to travel through the nanowires, researchers say that this will allow a larger pixel area. In addition, unlike silicon, there is no need for high temperature to manufacture the nanowire transistors, which is critical when using plastic substrates. The nanowire transistors also have better optical transmission than carbon nanotubes-based transistors, because the carbon nanotubes require small metal contacts to connect to the electrodes, compromising the transparency.

The researchers have published their results in Nature Nanotechnology.

(via Technology Review, Image credit: Sanghyun Ju and Chulwoo Son, Purdue University)

Labels: ,