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What Are Organic Thin Film Transistors?

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  • Written By: Larry Ray Palmer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 05 September 2014
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Organic thin film transistors (often abbreviated as OTFT) are electronic components created from organic compounds with semiconductor properties. The organic nature of the film used to create these components makes it very flexible, meaning it is possible to adapt this technology for use in paper thin electronic displays and other projects. In some cases, the circuitry can be printed with low cost printing equipment, thus lowering production costs and making it possible for manufacturers to lower end consumer costs, as well. Low cost and the fact that the technology allows for greater speeds and other abilities in electronics have made organic thin film transistors a popular avenue for manufacturers and developers of new electronic products. Applications of organic thin film transistors include thin film batteries, capacitors, testing circuitry, display circuitry and other uses.

When organic thin film transistors were first developed, the carrier mobility of the film was slow as compared to traditional thin film transistor materials. Over the course of time, improvements in the crystal growing process yielded organic thin film with increased carrier mobility speeds and the ability to design the crystals of the film for specific attributes. With increased carrier mobility speeds and designer abilities, the use of organic thin film has become a viable means of creating advanced electronic circuitry at a reasonable manufacturing cost.

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These components offer a variety of advantages in usage for display screens and thin film batteries. Printed on flexible materials, organic thin film transistors could feasibly be used to create electronic books with the physical pages being individual display screens. In other display applications, the organic thin film could be used to create lighter, more resilient portable computer displays and mobile technology that is easily viewed with vivid colors and extreme resolution in almost all lighting conditions. As a charge storage device, lightweight and highly efficient thin film batteries provide the opportunity for manufacturers to further reduce the size and weight of portable electronic devices.

As analytical sensors, organic thin film transistors are capable of distinguishing a variety of chemicals, even trace amounts in air or liquid. The thin film crystals can be designed and grown to respond to specific biologic or chemical agents with great precision. While development of organic thin film technology continues, applications in law enforcement — such as with the detection of drugs or alcohol; public safety — in the detection of air or water pollution; and end user safety — with smoke and carbon monoxide detection equipment are already in use in some parts of the world.

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