Engineers from the University of Alberta have invented a new thin-film transistor that may help manufacturers design flexible devices ranging from displays to medical imaging. The team has explored new uses for Thin Film Transistors (TFT), commonly found in the display screens.
The researchers improved the performance of the existing transistor by designing a new architecture of it which takes advantage of a bipolar action -- that is use of electrons and the absence of electrons (referred to as "holes") to contribute to electrical output.
"We were able to construct a unique combination of semiconductor and insulating layers that allowed us to inject 'holes' at the Metal-Oxide Semiconductor (MOS) interface," said Gem Shoute, PhD student in the department of electrical and computer engineering and lead author.
Adding "holes" at the interface increased the chances of an electron "tunnelling" across a dielectric barrier. Through this phenomenon, a type of quantum tunnelling, "we were finally able to achieve a transistor that behaves like a bipolar transistor."
"It is actually the best performing [TFT] device of its kind-ever," added materials engineering professor Ken Cadien, co-author on the paper published in the journal Nature Communications. Interestingly, the dimension of the device can be scaled in order to improve performance -- an advantage that modern TFTs lack. The transistor has power-handling capabilities at least 10 times greater than commercially produced thin film transistors, the study said.