Polymer Microelectronics

Polymer microelectronics/optoelectronics is an emerging field of research and development. Nanoassembly and other nanofabrication techniques can be applied to the fabrication of polymer microelectronics/optoelectronics to improve the fabrication efficiency and reduce the cost. Here we review the recent progress in materials, current fabrication technologies, devices designs, and applications related to polymer microelectronics, including transistors and integrated circuits.

Since the 1950s, inorganic silicon and gallium arsenide semiconductors, silicon dioxide, silicon nitride, and metals such as aluminum and copper have been the backbone of the semiconductor industry. However, since the late 1980s, there has been a growing interest in polymer or organic microelectronics based on the conjugated polymers, oligomers, or other molecules. By recent research efforts through novel synthesis and process techniques, the performance as well as the stability and ability to process these active materials has been greatly improved. Although polymer microelectronic devices cannot rival the traditional, mainstream inorganic microelectronic devices due to the relatively low mobilities of the organic semiconductive materials, they can be competitive for the applications requiring structural flexibility, low temperature processing, large-area coverage on materials such as plastic and paper, batch production, and especially low cost. The applications of the polymer microelectronics include the active-matrix flat-panel displays [351] based on the OLEDs, low-end smart cards, electronic identification tags, photovoltaic cells, high bandwidth photodec-tors [352], high density memory chips, sensors and actuators, and some pervasive computing needs. The main fabrication technologies include ink-jet printing, photochemical lithography [363], spin-coating, vacuum evaporation, soft lithography (contact transfer) [353], RIE, and nano self-assembly.

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