Research Highlights

Growing transistors from solution

Published online 31 March 2017

Researchers find a way to grow transistors from solution without compromising their performance, promising cheaper and more ecological electronics.

Sara Osman

Researchers have come up with a way to make transistors with superior performance using semiconductors grown entirely from solution.

Transistors are electrical switches made up of semiconducting materials that work by controlling the flow of electrons. Depending on a small electrical input signal, they either allow current to flow through, completing a circuit (switched-on), or not (switched-off). Their function forms the basis of computer chips and modern electronics. 

A team of researchers led by professor Thomas Anthopoulos from King Abdullah University for Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia and several other institutes from across the world, devised a way to assemble a type of transistors, known as thin-film transistors (TFT), where the semiconducting material constitutes multiple ultra-thin layers of different metal oxides deposited on top of each other, using solution methods such as spraying.1

Conventional solution-phase-grown metal oxide TFTs comprise a single semiconducting layer, and showed moderate performance mostly due to poor conductivity, limiting their widespread application. 

Now, the team show that, using a combination of both zinc and indium oxides together to form a layered junction, it is possible to increase conductivity by 2 to 100 fold. The team went on to elucidate the origin of this improvement, and published their findings in Science Advances.

This unprecedented improvement in electron mobility makes manufacturing transistors from semiconducting materials grown in this way a viable possibility. This has the potential to revolutionize the cost and environmental compatibility of transistor creation.


  1. Faber, H. et al. Heterojunction oxide thin-film transistors with unprecedented electron mobility grown from solution. Sci. Adv. (2017).