An electronics working group is developing an industry standard that may lead to use of plastic or other materials - instead of silicon - in some transistors.
The group will meet for the first time Sept. 18 at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in Piscataway, N.J.
Research on organic-based field-effect transistors is moving toward new applications and manufacturing capabilities, said Daniel Gamota, chairman of the IEEE working group and department manager of organic and molecular electronics at Motorola Inc.'s corporate laboratories in Schaumburg, Ill.
Inexpensive, flexible OFETs have potential near-term use for roll-up flat-panel displays, smart cards and biometric sensors and, longer term, for radio-frequency tags for grocery checkouts, luggage tracing at airports and monitoring individuals at secure locations.
The industry needs ``to create standards that will enable different organizations to communicate, compare results and take the technology forward,'' Gamota said in a telephone interview.
Research sites include Motorola, IBM Corp.'s research center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., Lucent Technologies Inc.'s Murray Hill, N.J.-based Bell Labs and Plastic Logic Ltd. of Cambridge, England, which until recently was part of Cambridge University's Cavendish Laboratory.
In its approach, Motorola employs benign solvents such as water and proprietary organic liquids.
Several functional elements that make up a transistor are dissolved and printed on a nonconductive fabric, paper or plastic, possibly polyester or polycarbonate.
In 2000, Motorola began seeking to leverage traditional printing platforms such as inkjet, gravure, stamping, stenciling or screen printing to fabricate OFETs on the low-cost plastic substrates, Gamota said. Motorola targets use of polymers with glass-transition temperatures of 212Ã¸-302Ã¸ F.
Motorola's concept would generate transistors that cost pennies each and avoid the high-temperature, vacuum and lithographic complexities of using silicon.
``We've had some exciting results,'' Gamota said, but so far Motorola has withheld details.
This month, a Web posting of a white paper from Motorola and the University of Michigan will initiate a discussion and review possibly leading to an IEEE vote in 18-24 months, said Paul Brazis Jr., the group's vice chairman and a Motorola senior staff electrical engineer.
In January, Gamota and Brazis began encouraging IEEE to form a standards working group on the technology.
In June, the IEEE Standards Association's board authorized establishment of the IEEE P1620 working group.