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Enabling Multifunctional Organic Transistors With Fine-Tuned Charge Transport.

C. Di, Hongguang Shen, F. Zhang, D. Zhu
Published 2019 · Materials Science, Medicine

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Organic field-effect transistors (OFETs) are promising candidates for many electronic applications not only because of the intrinsic features of organic semiconductors in mechanical flexibility and solution processability but also owing to their multifunctionalities promised by combined signal switching and transduction properties. In contrast to rapid developments of high performance devices, the construction of multifunctional OFETs remains challenging. A key issue is fine-tuning the charge transport by modulating electric fields that are coupled with various external stimuli. Given that the charge transport is determined by complicated factors involving material and device engineering, the development of effective strategies to manipulate charge transport is highly desired toward state-of-the-art multifunctional OFETs. In this Account, we present our recent progress on device-engineered OFETs for sensing applications and thermoelectric studies of organic semiconductors. The interactions between organic semiconductors and the target analyte determine the performance of chemical sensors based on OFETs. We introduced gas receptors and in situ tailored molecular antenna on the surface of ultrathin active layers. The engineered interfaces enable direct and specific semiconductor-analyte interactions, as demonstrated in developed chemical sensors and biosensors with prominent sensitivity and good selectivity. In comparison with chemical stimuli, many physical stimuli such as pressure typically possess a limit effect on the charge transport properties of organic semiconductors. By utilizing the suspended-gate geometry, the carrier concentration in a conductive channel can be controlled quantitatively by the pressure dominated changes in the capacitance of an air dielectric layer, allowing for ultrasensitive pressure detection in a unique manner. More importantly, the transduced current can be further processed by a synaptic OFET, in which the proton/electron coupling interfaces contribute to the dynamic modulation of carrier concentration, thus mimicking biological synapses. The integrated pressure sensor and synaptic OFETs, namely, the dual-organic-transistor-based tactile-perception element, has exhibited promising applications in artificial intelligence elements. Aiming at revealing thermoelectric (TE) properties of organic semiconductors, we also investigated field-modulated TE performance of several high-mobility semiconductors by varying the driving electric field to the temperature gradient. This has been confirmed to offer a strategy to accelerate the search for promising TE materials from well-developed organic semiconductors. By tuning the charge transport process in the device, the functional modulation of OFETs has experienced significant progress in the preceding years. The exploration of new ways to create OFETs with more fascinating functionalities is still full of opportunities to obtain greater benefit from organic transistors.

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