Research Highlights

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Stick-on transistors and sensors

Published online 17 October 2016

Scientists invent a technique that can print transistors, sensors in sticker formats using a 3D printer.

Biplab Das

A new technique is capable of printing thin-film transistors and sensors on polymer films, just as if they’re stickers. The transistors may be used in high-performance inverters and ring oscillators; whereas the sensors can monitor humidity levels in homes1

To achieve this, scientists from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Saudi Arabia, deposited the transistors and the sensors on silicon substrates, packaged them in thick nonporous and thin porous layers and then printed them on polymer films using a three-dimensional printer.    

Inverters, ring oscillators and logic gates made using the printed transistors exhibited high performance with low power consumption, a potential attribute for use in wearable and implantable electronics.  

The printed sensors were able to detect a wide range of humidity levels in simulated experiments. If embedded in clothes, they can be used to detect different sweat levels among highly active people such as athletes and soldiers. 

“Since the transistors and sensors can be virtually printed on any substrates, this is a low-cost method to package, interconnect, and print inorganic-material-based high-performance electronics with stability and desired electrical properties” says lead scientist Muhammad Mustafa Hussain.  


  1. Torres Sevilla, G. A. et al. Decal electronics: printable packaged with 3D printing high-performance flexible CMOS electronic systems. Adv. Mater. Tech. (2016).