Researchers at the University of Manchester and Shandong University in China have claimed to come one step closer to developing flexible screen televisions, tablets and phones.
The international pair of institutions say they have been able to do this thanks to the creation of an ultrafast, nanoscale transistor, or TFT, made out of an oxide semiconductor.
"The TFT is the first oxide-semiconductor based transistor that is capable of operating at a benchmark speed of 1GHz," the universities said. "This could make the next generation electronic gadgets even faster, brighter and more flexible than ever before."
Most current TFTs are silicon-based which are opaque, rigid and expensive in comparison to the oxide semiconductor family of transistors which the team from the UK and China are developing. Whilst oxide TFTs will improve picture on LCD displays, it is their potential flexibility that makes them even more unique.
"TVs can already be made extremely thin and bright. Our work may help make TV more mechanically flexible and even cheaper to produce," explained Aimin Song, Professor of Nanoelectronics in the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Manchester.
"But, perhaps even more importantly, our GHz transistors may enable medium or even high performance flexible electronic circuits, such as truly wearable electronics. Wearable electronics requires flexibility and in many cases transparency, too. This would be the perfect application for our research.
"Plus, there is a trend in developing smart homes, smart hospitals and smart cities - in all of which oxide semiconductor TFTs will play a key role."
However, the universities said that in order to commercialise oxide-based electronics there is still a range of research and development that has to be carried out on materials, lithography, device design, and testing.
"Making a high performance device, like our GHz IGZO transistor, is challenging because not only do materials need to be optimised, a range of issues regarding device design, fabrication and tests also have to be investigated," Prof Song added.
"[But] we're confident in oxide-semiconductor based technologies."
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