A flexible transistor is one which, unlike present, rigidly-structured transistor s, can be successfully used in packages that can be curled up, wrapped, or bent, a quality that will enable users to - for example - have a display screen that can be rolled up. In October 1999, IBM announced that they had developed a very thin, flexible and inexpensive type of transistor that could actually be sprayed onto plastic.
Cherie Kagan, a materials scientist at IBM, led a study that was featured in the journal Science . Kagan wrote that the combination of an inorganic semiconductor that conducts electricity and an organic material that modulates the structure makes the procedure possible at room temperature. Researchers used a compound composed of an organic material, phenethylammonium, and an inorganic material, tin iodide. The two materials were combined in separate layers, to create a coating thinner than a human hair. Current research is exploring other materials that could be used in the same fashion.
Currently available transistors are made of materials that must undergo high-temperature processing, and consequently can only be placed on heat-resistant surfaces. The flexible transistor could be used to replace the amorphous silicon used in computer displays. Future applications of the technology could include, among numerous other possibilities, a computer screen that could be rolled up and carried in the user's pocket.