Transparent Transistors Appear Ready To Shake Up The Consumer Electronics Industry

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Jinsong Huang and Yongbo Yuan

Jinsong Huang and Yongbo Yuan

Transparent transistors were invented by Oregon State University researchers in 2002 but up until now, the materials had very few commercial applications.

Today, over a decade since the transparent transistors were developed, the materials appear ready to make a big splash in the field of consumer electronics.

Specifically, amorphous oxide semiconductors are gaining their first commercial applications thanks to continued hard work and collaboration with private industry dating back to 2002.

One semiconductor, comprised of the compound indium gallium zinc oxide, or IGZO, is being called upon to to produce flat-panel displays for computer monitors with remarkable resolution and clarity, and in ultra-thin HDTVs.

“Amorphous oxide semiconductors appear well-positioned to significantly impact a $100 billion industry,” said John Wager, holder of the Michael and Judith Gaulke Chair in the OSU School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

He added, “Because of their increased electron mobility, compounds like IGZO can provide brighter displays with higher resolution.”

One potential huge application for utilizing transistors made from IGZO is in charging cell phones because compounds like IGZO could result in a phone only needing to be charged once a week for example, instead of once or twice a day.

“Amorphous oxide semiconductors benefit from the fact that they can be implemented by retrofitting an existing fabrication facility,” Wager said. “This would save billions of dollars, rather than having to build a new plant, as required for low-temperature polysilicon.

“Amorphous oxide semiconductor implementation appears on the verge of exploding,” he said. “If the current trend continues, in the next five years most people will likely own some device with these materials in them. This is a breathtaking pace.”

One thing is certain… The future of transparent electronics looks bright thanks to the commercialization of amorphous oxide semiconductors.

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