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Powering towards printable electronic circuits

An international team of researchers from the USA, Singapore and Germany has brought the prospect of printable electronic circuits a step closer by developing a new type of semiconductor. Integrating electronics into consumable items is expected to transform medicine, in terms of diagnostics and drug delivery, for example, and the packaging of merchandise.

The printable plastic semiconductor that uses electrons to conduct electricity was developed by Antonio Facchetti of the Polyera Corporation in Illinois, USA, and colleagues, who report their work in Nature this week.

The inexpensive, chemically stable, highly soluble, naphthalene-based polymer can be made easily at room temperature using readily obtainable solutions. It can be used as a component in transistors and is compatible with a broad range of printing and processing technologies.

Other printable plastic semiconductors operate by conducting positive charges, but the electron-transporting plastic semiconductor is fully compatible with them. According to the researchers, the two types could be readily combined to make powerful complementary circuits.

Facchetti and colleagues believe that “the combination of this material with previously developed high-performance … polymers and optimized device architectures will open unprecedented opportunities for printed electronics.”

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