Researchers at Hewlett Packard and Oregon State University have announced their new range of materials which are completely transparent, called 'amorphous heavy-metal cation multicomponent oxides.'
The transistors are not carbon based, such as organics and polymers, but rather are inorganic, which typically lends itself to higher performance but can make them more expensive. However, it is claimed they are no more expensive.
John Wager, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at OSU, said "Compared to organic or polymer transistor materials, these new inorganic oxides have higher mobility, better chemical stability, ease of manufacture, and are physically more robust. Oxide-based transistors in many respects are already further along than organics or polymers are after many years of research, and this may blow some of them right out of the water. Frankly, until now no one ever believed we could get this type of electronic performance out of transparent oxide transistors processed at low temperatures," Wager said. "They may be so effective that there will be many uses which don't even require transparency, they are just a better type of transistor, cheap and easy to produce."
Zinc-tin-oxide thin film transistors are the latest devices that have been fabricated. This combination of materials gives a higher mobility.
Wagner cites possible applications as gas sensor systems. These sensors are used extensively in automotive and other mechanical applications, and the new zinc-tin oxide transistors might allow the creation of a new type of gas sensor whose sensitivity is electronically controlled over a wide dynamic range. Opportunities also exist in consumer electronics, smart packaging, games and toys and touch screens. The military is extremely interested in research of this type because of possible uses in sophisticated technology or fighting equipment. Better solar cells are possible.
Wager said, "It's not unusual for the creators of innovative game products to be the first people to implement a new technology. Some of the first illustrations we've seen of the things you could do with transparent electronics have been in science fiction movies that show futuristic types of computer equipment. "Some of those things, which were basically special effects produced by Hollywood, may soon become a reality," he said.