Korean researchers have successfully developed a technology to manufacture eco-friendly semiconductors using water.
On Aug. 23, a joint research team led by Professor Jung Dae-sung from Chung-Ang University and Professor Kim Yoon-hee from Gyeongsang National University announced that they succeeded in developing a technique to make eco-friendly semiconductors using water instead of toxic organic solvents.
Organic semiconductors are made of carbon and carbon compounds, and they are softer and more flexible than silicon semiconductors, which are mainly used. Since they can be produced cheaply, organic semiconductors are utilized in next-gen displays like Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) panels. To realize OLED with organic semiconductors, it is necessary to melt solid-state organic semiconductors in order to create a film. During the process, organic solvents are used to evenly disperse and melt organic semiconductors. However, organic solvents are highly toxic, and thus eco-friendly ones are needed at the moment to replace the toxic material.
Previous studies have shown that it is possible to melt semiconductors in water using surfactants, but some surfactants remaining after the formation of a semiconductor film were found to hinder the movement of electric charges. The research team was able to overcome this limit by developing a non-ionic surfactant with a new structure. It was found that the surfactant using ethylene glycol for hydrophilia areas and carbon chains as hydrophobic areas easily detached after it formed an organic semiconductor film. Accordingly, it was possible to maintain the flow of electric charge.
Professor Jung noted, "Our research team has successfully developed a technology that can manufacture high-performance semiconductors using water for the first time." He added, "It is possible to use the eco-friendly method in displays and various kinds of image sensors. So, I think that the newly-developed technique will be welcomed in the industry."
The research findings were published online on Aug. 19 by Advanced Materials, a weekly scientific journal covering materials science.