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Flexible electronics draw closer

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A flexible, transparent alternative to standard semiconductor technology has been developed by scientists.

Currently, semiconductor technology is based on opaque materials including silicon and gallium arsenide. Unfortunately, these materials cannot be used to make thin but strong films suitable for flexible electronics such as ePaper -- but the promising alternative of a metal oxide semiconductor generally need extremely high temperatures to create, which destroys the polymers which support a device.

However, scientists Yong-Hoon Kim and colleagues have developed a new method of creating metal oxide semiconductors at room temperature, using ultraviolet (UV) irradiation.

UV light was beamed on to a solution to activate metal particles that formed new metal oxide molecules out of the condensation. This thin film was created at room temperature; a far cry from the typical 350 degrees required to create metal oxide.

By not stressing the solution through high temperatures, the fabrication avoided making the film too brittle. Metal oxide semiconductors are efficient current carriers, and are flexible as the structure isn't rigid -- instead, they are non-crystalline solids.

The new method of metal oxide semiconductor fabrication potentially means that flexible electronics can be built cheaply, and may prove useful in the medical, transportation, scientific and consumer gadget markets.

The study has been published in the journal Nature.

(via Ars Technica)

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— By on September 10, 2012, 9:10 PM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure