Organic Electronics With Polymer Dielectrics On Plastic Substrates Fabricated Via Transfer Printing
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Printing methods are fast becoming important processing techniques for the fabrication of flexible electronics. Some goals for flexible electronics are to produce cheap, lightweight, disposable radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, very large flexible displays that can be produced in a roll-to-roll process and wearable electronics for both the clothing and medical industries. Such applications will require fabrication processes for the assembly of dissimilar materials onto a common substrate in ways that are compatible with organic and polymeric materials as well as traditional solid-state electronic materials. A transfer printing method has been developed with these goals and application in mind. This printing method relies primarily on differential adhesion where no chemical processing is performed on the device substrate. It is compatible with a wide variety of materials with each component printed in exactly the same way, thus avoiding any mixed processing steps on the device substrate. The adhesion requirements of one material printed onto a second are studied by measuring the surface energy of both materials and by surface treatments such as plasma exposure or the application of self-assembled monolayers (SAM). Transfer printing has been developed within the context of fabricating organic electronics onto plastic substrates because these materials introduce unique opportunities associated with processing conditions not typically required for traditional semiconducting materials. Compared to silicon, organic semiconductors are soft materials that require low temperature processing and are extremely sensitive to chemical processing and environmental contamination. The transfer printing process has been developed for the important and commonly used organic semiconducting materials, pentacene (Pn) and poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT). A three-step printing process has been developed by which these materials are printed onto an electrode subassembly consisting of previously printed electrodes separated by a polymer dielectric layer all on a plastic substrate. These bottom contact, flexible organic thin-film transistors (OTFT) have been compared to unprinted (reference) devices consisting of top contact electrodes and a silicon dioxide dielectric layer on a silicon substrate. Printed Pn and P3HT TFTs have been shown to out-perform the reference devices. This enhancement has been attributed to an annealing under pressure of the organic semiconducting material.