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Nanotube Integrated Circuits a Reality

In February this year, the first true breakthrough in microscopic, flexible substrate transistors was achieved. Professor Esko I. Kauppinen from Aalto University developed a fast and simple method of producing high-performance thin-film transistors on an ultra-thin plastic substrate. The repercussions are that in theory at least, it is now possible to print transistors in-place on flexible electronics thin enough to wear as clothing, but dense enough to rival modern microprocessors.

Or to put it another way, a sheet of intelligent paper that behaves exactly like normal paper, but has complex circuitry woven through every fibre. The building blocks of true smart paper.

Such applications are still of course, years off: this is a relatively simple proof of concept and it will take time to filter down into such applications. Still the confirmation that it is not only possible but cheap to manufacture such, is a definite point of interest.

The new method involves growing the nanotubes in atmospheric pressure gas and collecting them with a filter. The resulting thin film is then transferred from the filter onto plastic, which provides a very clean film of uniform quality in just a few seconds. This process is being developed as a technology for high-speed roll-to-roll manufacturing.

References

The world’s first carbon nanotube-based integrated circuits on plastic substrate

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