Silicon, the conventional semiconductor used to build up electronics, is processed at very high temperature – over one thousand Celsius degrees - and it is difficult to recycle. With the aim of facilitating the sustainable and competitive manufacture of new displays with low-cost technology, scientists of the European project MULTIFLEXIOXIDES have developed new ceramic thin films containing amorphous or nano-structured oxides processed at low temperature to be used as transparent materials, conducting, semiconducting or insulating components in rigid and flexible electronic devices. The challenge is that we use zinc oxide, which is a good-behaviour ceramic material, with gallium and indium oxides and mix them within a ceramic thin film to make new materials with electronic performances as good as silicon, something that was never tried before” says Rodrigo Martins, director of CEMOP (Center of Excellence in Microelectronics Optoelectronics and Processes) at the Portuguese University-Enterprise association UNINOVA (Institute for the Development of New Technologies), president of the European Materials Research Society and coordinator of the MULTIFLEXIOXIDES project.
The groups involved in the MULTIFLEXIOXIDES project are known as the inventors of this technology at room temperature. Groups at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan, and at Oregon State University, USA, have also developed oxide transistors but at temperatures higher than 600°C. “As we can process the oxide semiconductors at room temperature, we can deposit the material on very cheap substrates like plastic or paper, that can be re-used and are 100% recyclable, because I am only using nanometers of the material such as paper, which also contains oxides”.
Nanosciences, nanotechnologies, materials and new production technologies
Japan, Portugal, USA