Definition

transparent semiconductor

Part of the Electronics glossary:

A transparent semiconductor is a substance that can be used to manufacture see-through electronic components and circuits.

In 2003, a group led by John Wager, Doug Keszler and Janet Tate developed the world's first transparent transistor . Hideo Hosono and his colleagues at the Tokyo Institute of Technology recently created a high-performance transparent semiconductor material out of indium gallium zinc oxide. Both teams used zinc compounds that can be produced at relatively low temperatures and applied to a plastic substrate during manufacture without melting the plastic. The process makes it possible to manufacture solid materials that conduct electric charge carriers ( electron s and hole s) and transmit light. Traditional semiconductor element s and compound s such as silicon , germanium, and gallium arsenide are opaque.

The materials are especially well suited for use in computer and video displays, photovoltaic cell s, and digital camera s. Private industry is working to identify applications for transparent semiconductors, and to develop prototype s of devices that can be useful in the real world.

Here are a few of the many possible applications:

  • A flexible, highly portable e-paper computer display that could take the place of a monitor
  • A refreshable electronic newspaper created with e-paper and electronic ink
  • A flexible plastic display that can be applied to a vehicle windshield like a decal, allowing vital parameters such as speed, fuel level, and engine temperature to be viewed continuously without forcing the driver to glance away from the road
  • An improved thin-film transistor (TFT) display that would be brighter than a conventional TFT display or liquid-crystal display ( LCD ) because it would transmit more of the backlight
  • A flexible, transparent solar panel that could be attached directly to windows or skylights.

This was last updated in March 2006
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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