New CNT fab method enables flexible electronics

February 10, 2011 — Research teams for Professor Yutaka Ohno Nagoya University (Japan) and Prof. Esko I. Kauppinen, Aalto University (Finland), have developed a simple and rapid technique to fab carbon nanotube (CNT) thin film transistors on plastic film.

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The researchers believe they have produced the world’s first carbon nanotubes based on sequential logic integrated circuits (ICs). In the recently developed method, nanotubes are grown using gas phase filtration and thin film transfer to the crucible of plastic on top. This creates a clean and uniform film in a few seconds, researchers report. This method could further be developed into a high-speed roll-to-roll (R2R) manufacturing process.

The inventors believe that the developed carbon nanotube manufacturing process will allow for flexible electronics, such as electronic paper, made at competitive production rates. 

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Interest in lightweight and flexible devices, such as a flexible mobile phone and electronic paper, has increased recently. These devices require flexible electronics components, produced cheaply and quickly directly onto plastic substrates.

Carbon nanotubes offer good conductivity and chemical stability, but current CNT manufacturing does not result in CNT transistors with the properties expected. Nanotubes manufactured in the current synthesis process are partially destroyed, whereas the gas phase filtration process leaves them whole, say researchers.

Research results were published in the February 6, 2011 issue of Nature Nanotechnology:

The study was funded by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (Nedo), Japan and the Aalto University Multidisciplinary Institute of Digitalization and Energy Research (MIDE).

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