The aim of the research team (from University of Freiburg, technical college of Mittelhessen and the Max Planck Institute) is to optimize organic thin-film transistors used in biomedicine to replace silicon technology. The researchers are concentrating on neuronal interfaces that enable a direct connection between the human brain and a computer. One application example is the cochlear implant. This is an electronic hearing prosthesis that can replace the function of the inner ear. Other possible applications include disposable ECG systems and sweat sensors.
Flexible But Too Slow
The advantages of organic transistors using plastics as a carrier substance are their flexibility and comparatively low manufacturing costs. However, the technology is currently still too slow and does not permit radio transmission. Its use is limited by the fact that it is not very persistent.
In optimizing the technology, the researchers are sharing the workload. The University of Freiburg is responsible for circuit design, technical college of Mittelhessen is developing circuit simulation models, and the Max Planck Institute is responsible for production.
Optimizing The Manufacturing Process
Prof. Dr. Alexander Klös from the Competence Center for Nanotechnology and Photonics explains the task of his research group in the research network: »Complex microelectronic systems require extensive simulations in the design process. So-called compact models are used, which describe the electrical behavior of individual components and enable even complex circuits to be analyzed in network simulators within a reasonable computing time. We use the results of the simulations to optimize the manufacturing process«.
The German research network is funding the project as part of its priority programme »Flexible high-frequency electronics for wireless communication systems«. It is one project out of 17 that investigate the possible uses of various materials in the manufacture of mechanically flexible electronics.