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organic thin-film transistor (OTFT)

Organic thin-film transistor (OTFT) technology involves the use of organic semiconducting compounds in electronic components, notably computer displays. Such displays are bright, the colors are vivid, they provide fast response times, and they are easy to read in most ambient lighting environments.

Several factors have motivated engineers to conduct and continue research in organic semiconductor technology. One of these factors is cost. Organic displays are relatively cheap, but until recently, they have proven slow in terms of carrier mobility (the ease with which an atom shares electron s and hole s with other atoms). Slow carrier mobility translates into sluggish response time, which limits the ability of a display to render motion such as is common in animated computer games and, increasingly, on the Web. Researchers at Lucent Technologies and Pennsylvania State University have, however, recently developed a process for growing organic crystals with carrier mobility rivaling that of traditional TFT materials. Further improvements are expected.

Another factor that motivates research in OTFT technology is application diversity. Organic substrates allow for displays to be fabricated on flexible surfaces, rather than on rigid materials as is necessary in traditional TFT displays. A piece of flexible plastic might be coated with OTFT material and made into a display that can be handled like a paper document. Sets of such displays might be bundled, producing magazines or newspapers whose page contents can be varied periodically, or even animated. This has far-reaching ramifications. For example, comic book characters might move around the pages and speak audible words. More likely, such displays will find use in portable computers and communications systems.

This was last updated in March 2011

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