Paper Chips and Disposable Electronics

Paper Chips and Disposable Electronics
Scientists from Universidade Nova de Lisboa in Portugal have developed the world’s first paper based transistor. More accurately, it is a field effect transistor (FET) with a paper “interstrate” layer. This invention rivals that of the oxide based thin film transistors (TFTs) produced on glass or crystalline silicon substrates and provides the same level of performance as TFTs, according to the scientists. This advancement could lead to advanced paper based displays as well as smart labels and green disposable electronics in the not too distant future.


 Prof. Elvira Fortunato from the Portugal research team (Credit: CEMOP - UNINOVA)
Prof. Elvira Fortunato
from the Portugal
team (Credit: CEMOP

Researcher Elvira Fortunato and colleagues from the Centro de Investigacao de Materiais at the university said there is currently overwhelming attention placed on the usage of biopolymers in the production of low-cost electronic applications. Various international research teams have started utilizing paper, or its generic name cellulose, as the physical support (substrate) of electronic devices, as it is Earth’s major biopolymer. Till now, none have successfully used paper as an interstrate component of a FET.

The development process entailed fabricating the device on both sides of the paper sheet. Using this method, the paper acts simultaneously as the electric insulator and as the substrate. From the results, the electric characterization of the devices revealed that the performance from the hybrid FETs outshined the amorphous silicon TFTs.

The first paper interstrate thin film transistors developed by the Portuguese team. (Credit: CENIMAT) 
The first paper interstrate thin film
transistors developed by the
Portuguese team. (Credit: CENIMAT)

Potential applications for these paper-based transistors include paper like displays, bio-applications, smart labels, smart packaging, RFID tags, and new disposable electronics devices, among other uses.

TFOT recently covered new strong, light, and stretchy materials developed at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland. TFOT also covered nanowires that make bendy solar cells developed at A*STAR Institute of Microelectronics in Singapore. Also, be sure to check our extensive look at the future of electronic paper.

Additional information on the new paper transistors can be obtained at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa’s website.

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About the author

Anuradha Menon

Anu has a bachelor's degree in Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering from Monash University Malaysia. She is currently working as a Research Assistant at Monash. Anu has published an academic paper on robotics and artificial intelligence at MTC 2008 – IEEE International Instrumentation and Measurement Technology Conference in Victoria, Canada.

View all articles by Anuradha Menon