Cambridge engineers design ultralow power printable transistors

Researchers from Cambridge University have developed a new design for Schottky-barrier indium-gallium-zinc-oxide thin-film transistors which operate at ultralow power. This design potentially enables devices to operate over long periods of time solely using energy harvested from their environment without the need for a battery, and could be used in wearable or implantable electronics.

These transistors can be produced at low temperatures and in principle could be printed on almost any material, ranging from glass and plastic to polyester and paper. The new design gets around one of the main issues preventing the development of ultralow power transistors, namely the ability to produce them at very small sizes. The transistor’s operating voltage is less than a volt, with power consumption below 1 nW. This ultralow power consumption opens up new avenues for system design for the Internet of Things, in which most of the things we interact with every day are connected to the Internet.

“This will bring about a new design model for ultralow power sensor interfaces and analogue signal processing in wearable and implantable devices, all of which are critical for the Internet of Things,” – Professor Arokia Nathan.

The results of this work carried out by Dr Sungsik Lee and Professor Arokia Nathan of Cambridge University were reported in the journal Science. Find our more.


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