A source-gated transistor. Photo: Advanced Technology Institute, University of Surrey.
A source-gated transistor. Photo: Advanced Technology Institute, University of Surrey.

Low-cost, flexible displays that use very little energy could be a step closer, thanks to an innovation by researchers at the University of Surrey in the UK that solves a problem that has plagued source-gated transistors (SGTs).

SGTs are a special type of transistor that combines two fundamental components of electronics – a thin-film transistor and a carefully engineered metal-semiconductor contact. They have many advantages over traditional transistors, including using less power and being more stable. SGTs are suitable for large-area electronics and are promising candidates for use in fields such as medicine, engineering and computing.

At the moment, however, SGTs are not widely used because current designs have a problem with how their performance changes with temperature. To solve this problem, researchers from the University of Surrey developed a new design for a transistor component called the source. They propose adding very thin layers of insulating material at the source contact to change the way in which electric charges flow.

"We used a rapidly emerging semiconductor material called IGZO or indium-gallium-zinc oxide to create the next generation of source-gated transistors,” said Radu Sporea, project lead from the University of Surrey. “Through nanoscale contact engineering, we obtained transistors that are much more stable with temperature than previous attempts. Device simulations allowed us to understand this effect.

"This new design adds temperature stability to SGTs and retains usual benefits like using low power, producing high signal amplification and being more reliable under different conditions. While source-gated transistors are not mainstream because of a handful of performance limitations, we are steadily chipping away at their shortcomings." Sporea and his colleagues report their new design in a paper in IEEE Transactions on Electron Devices.

"Source-gate transistors could be the building block to new power-efficient flexible electronics technology that helps to meet our energy needs without damaging the health of our planet,” said Salman Alfarisyi, who performed the device simulations as part of his final-year undergraduate project. “For example, their sensing and signal amplification ability makes it easy to recommend them as key elements for medical devices that interface with our entire body, allowing us to better understand human health."

This story is adapted from material from the University of Surrey, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier. Link to original source.