MMaterialsgateNEWS 2018/01/18

Electronics: Making waves for ultrahigh definition displays

Wavy transistors that vertically gain width without increasing their on-chip footprint could drive future flexible displays.

Flexible ultrahigh resolution displays have benefits for next-generation mobile electronics, such as point-of-care medical diagnostic devices. KAUST has developed a unique transistor architecture that boosts the performance of the display circuitry.

Flat-panel displays implemented in smart watches, mobile devices and televisions rely on planar transistor circuits to achieve high-resolution and fast imaging. In these circuits, thin-film transistors, acting as switches, control the electric current that activates individual image elements, or pixels, consisting of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) or liquid crystals.

Future displays are expected to offer an even better visual experience through increases in resolution and frame rate. While transistor miniaturization can augment resolution, a higher field-effect mobility of the channel material can fulfill both these needs. It does this through its ability to facilitate electron and hole flows between contacts under applied voltage, which then allows transistors to switch faster and occupy a smaller pixel area.

To date, amorphous-oxide semiconductors, such as zinc oxide and indium-gallium zinc oxide, have provided transistor channels with modest mobility. Scaling down these transistors is expensive and introduces flaws known as short-channel effects that increase their power consumption and degrade their performance, explains Muhammad Hussain, who led the research team.

As an alternative, Hussain’s team has designed non-planar vertical semiconductor fin-like structures that are laterally interconnected to form wavy transistor arrays. The researchers opted for zinc oxide as the active channel material and generated the wavy architecture on a silicon substrate before transferring it onto a flexible soft polymer support using a low temperature process.

Thanks to the vertical orientation, the researchers widened the transistors by 70% without expanding their occupied pixel area, doubling the transistor performance. The wavy arrays exhibited reduced short-channel effects and higher turn-on voltage stability compared to their planar equivalents. Moreover, in a proof-of-concept experiment, they could drive flexible LEDs at twice the output power as their conventional counterparts. “The LEDs were brighter without increasing power consumption,” says Hussain.

According to Hussain, considering the transition from desktop to smart phone reveals an obvious trend: reduction in size and weight leads to better displays. Yet, most people juggle laptops, tablets and smart phones. “Having a single gadget with shape and size that can be dynamically reconfigured is a dream we are working toward,” he says. He notes that wavy transistor arrays represent a step in that direction.

Source: King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST) – 14.01.2018.


Hanna, A.N., Kutbee, A.T., Subedi, R.C., Ooi, B. & Hussain, M.M. Wavy architecture thin-film transistor for ultra-high resolution flexible displays. Small advance online publication, 13 November 2017.|

Investigated and edited by:

Dr.-Ing. Christoph Konetschny, Inhaber und Gründer von Materialsgate
Büro für Material- und Technologieberatung
The investigation and editing of this document was performed with best care and attention.
For the accuracy, validity, availability and applicability of the given information, we take no liability.
Please discuss the suitability concerning your specific application with the experts of the named company or organization.

You want additional material or technology investigations concerning this subject?

Materialsgate is leading in material consulting and material investigation.
Feel free to use our established consulting services

MMore on this topic

How do you feel when technology you saw in a movie is made into reality? Collaboration between the electrical engineering and textile industries has made TVs or smartphone screens displaying on clothing a reality.

A research team led by Professor Kyung Cheol Choi at the School of Electrical Engineering presented wearable displays for various applications including fashion, IT, and healthcare. Integrating OLED (organic light-emitting diode) into fabrics, the team developed the most highly flexible and reliable technology for wearable displays in the world. Recently, information displays have become increasingly important as they construct the external part of smart devices for the next generation. As world trends are focusing on the Internet of Things (IoTs) and wearable technology, the team drew a lot of attention by making great progress towards commercializing clothing-shaped ‘wearable displays’... more read more

A new modeling technique determines the parameters that control glass relaxation fluctuations, helping to guide future glass composition development

Next-generation displays will feature increased resolution and performance, but getting there will require a shift to smaller individual pixel sizes and a tightening of the tolerance for glass relaxation. Display manufacturers can account for a certain level of relaxation in the glass, referring to the intermolecular rearrangement, if it's known and reproducible. But fluctuations in this relaxation behavior tend to introduce uncertainty into the manufacturing process, possibly leading to misalignment of pixels within displays. These fluctuations are caused by slight variations in the thermal history of the glass, and unfortunately no one has ever performed a systematic study of what... more read more


Partner of the Week

Search in MaterialsgateNEWS

Books and products