Scientists Develop Transistors Printed on Transparent Paper

It looks like a relative breakthrough has been made where materials sciences and nanotechnology are concerned. Scientist Liangbing Hu, stationed at the University of Maryland, turned to one of the most simple materials in order to built a transistor: paper. You might not think of paper as being a good base for anything but writing or packing your stuff for a move, but when treated properly, it can become as thin and clear as glass and plastic.

Like regular paper, nanopaper, despite its ultra-thin likeness, can be handled like you'd expect - it can be cut, folded and made into a paper airplane (that one might be a stretch). With normal paper, natural bumps in the surface can stand tens of micrometers tall - far too tall for smooth flow of electrons. Nanopaper on the other hand, has fibers measured at the nanoscale level - so small, electron flow isn't an issue.

Using the nanopaper as a base, the researchers piled on a couple of depositing layers: carbon nanotubes, an insulating organic molecule and then a semiconducting organic molecule. With electrodes and carbon nanotubes added, a full paper-based transistor is made. Because paper is inherently weaker structurally than plastic or paper, the carbon nanotubes used act as a backbone to keep things stable.

The resulting transistor is one that's 84% transparent, and because of their malleability, they can still retain good performance went slightly bent. The formula isn't perfect at the moment, but it seems likely that paper transistors are definitely in our future.