Thin-film transistor circuits based on inkjet printed single-walled carbon nanotubes and zinc tin oxide



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Recently, various novel functional materials and low-cost device fabrication techniques have emerged in the field of thin-film electronics. Active semiconductors in the form of thin-films are one of the critical components in thin-film transistors (TFTs) to achieve high-performance large-area electronics. Semiconducting single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) and amorphous zinc tin oxide (ZTO) are considered to be some of the most promising semiconductors for TFTs due to their advantages such as high electrical performance, air-stability, and optical transparency. In this dissertation, SWCNTs and ZTO are employed as p-channel/ambipolar and n-channel semiconductors in TFTs, respectively, and integrated into various circuits through use of the cost-effective inkjet printing technique. High-performance p-channel TFTs are demonstrated by using single-pass inkjet printing of SWCNTs. Dense uniform networks of SWCNTs are formed in the channel of TFTs with single-pass printing after application of UV O3 treatment on the dielectric surface for suitable surface energy modification. By employing these SWCNT TFTs for p-TFTs along with ZTO n-TFTs, high-speed complementary circuits are demonstrated with low power consumption. The material combination of high-performance inkjet printed n- and p-channel semiconductors results in the fastest ring oscillators (ROSCs) among previously reported ROSCs where printed semiconductors were utilized. Furthermore, adding additional top-gate dielectric and top-gate electrode layers on top of the ROSCs can impart new functionalities that can be used to control the oscillation frequency of the ROSCs linearly with applied top-gate bias. Various basic circuits are also demonstrated by using inkjet printed ambipolar semiconductors. SWCNTs and ZTO, employed as p- and n-channel semiconductors for individual TFTs, turn into an ambipolar semiconductor when they are printed in a bilayer heterostructure. The bilayer ambipolar TFTs show high electron and hole mobilities in air, and ROSCs based on the ambipolar TFTs show the fastest oscillation frequency among the best reported ambipolar TFT-based ROSCs. Ambipolar SWCNT circuits are also demonstrated by encapsulating SWCNTs with aluminum oxide (Al2O3) layer deposited by atomic layer deposition (ALD). These ambipolar circuits are realized on flexible plastic substrates with inkjet printed electrodes, and show high operational and environmental stability.