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Outstanding in Their Field Effect

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Rice University (RU) researchers have developed thin films of nanotubes made with ink-jet printers that offer a new way to make field-effect transistors (FETs). The technique does not scale down to the levels required for modern microprocessors, but it will be useful to inventors who want to print transistors on flexible substrates, says RU's Robert Vajtai.

The process involves the analysis of sample circuits printed with single-walled carbon nanotubes functionalized with four types of molecules. "The key is printing the appropriate number of layers to get the type of conduction you want, either metallic or semiconductive," Vajtai says. The researchers found that at room temperature, electrical transport took place through the network of semiconducting and metallic nanotubes, while at low temperatures, the semiconducting nanotubes became insulators, so electron tunneling between adjacent metallic nanotubes took over.

Vajtai says nanotube-based FETs are suited for logic-based applications that can be printed on a flexible surface but do not need a large number of circuits.

From Rice University
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