Theses Doctoral

Optimization of Printed Electronics

Yang, Shyuan

Solution processed circuits are expected to be the main components to achieve low cost, large area, flexible electronics. However, the commercialization of solution processed flexible electronics face several challenges. The passive component such as capacitors are limited in frequency range and operating voltage. The active component such as transistors suffer from low mobility ultimately leading to limited current-carrying capacity. Just as in traditional silicon technology, the fabrication process and material choices significantly impact the performance of the fabricated devices. My thesis focuses on the optimization of the performance of printed capacitors and transistors through investigation of several aspects of the device structure and fabrication process.
The first part of this work focuses on the optimization of printed nanoparticle/polymer composite capacitors. Thin film metal oxide nanoparticle/polymer composites have enormous potential to achieve printable high-k dielectrics. The combination of high-k ceramic nanoparticle and polymer enables room temperature deposition of high dielectric constant film without the need of high temperature sintering process. The polymer matrix host fills the packing voids left behind by the nanoparticles resulting to higher effective dielectric permittivity as a system and suppresses surface states leading to reduced dielectric loss. Such composite systems have been employed in a number of flexible electronic applications such as the dielectrics in capacitors and thin film transistors. One of the most important properties of thin film capacitors is the breakdown field. In a typical capacitor system, the breakdown process leads to catastrophic failure that destroys the capacitor; however, in a nanoparticle/polymer composite system with self-healing property, the point of breakdown is not well-defined. The breakdown of the dielectric or electrodes in the system limits the leakage observed. It is possible, however, to define a voltage/field tolerance. Field tolerance is defined as the highest practical field at which the device stays operational with low failure rate by qualifying the devices with defined leakage current density. In my work, the optimization of the field tolerance of (Ba,Sr)TiO₃ (BST)/parylene-C composite capacitors is achieved by studying the influence of the electromigration parameter on leakage and field strength through the inherit asymmetrical structure of the fabricated capacitors.
One approach to creating these composites is to use a spin-coated nanoparticle film together with vapor deposited polymers, which can yield high performance, but also forms a structurally asymmetric device. The performance of a nanoparticle BST/parylene-C composite capacitor is compared to that of a nanoparticle BST capacitor without the polymer layer under both directions of bias. The composite device shows a five orders of magnitude improvement in the leakage current under positive bias of the bottom electrode relative to the pure-particle device, and four orders of magnitude improvement when the top electrode is positively biased. The voltage tolerance of the device is also improved, and it is asymmetric (44 V vs. 28 V in bottom and top positive bias, respectively). This study demonstrates the advantage of this class of composite device construction, but also shows that proper application of the device bias in this type of asymmetrical system can yield an additional benefit.
The dependence of the field tolerance of nanoparticle/polymer composite capacitors on the electromigration parameter of the electrodes is investigated using the symmetrical dielectric system. The breakdown is suppressed by selecting the polarity used in nanoparticle (Ba,Sr)TiO₃/parylene-C composite film-based capacitors. Metals including gold, silver, copper, chromium, and aluminum with comparable surface conditions were examined as the electrodes. The asymmetric silver, aluminum, gold, copper, and chromium electrode devices show a 64 %, 29 %, 28 %, 17 %, 33 %, improvement in the effective maximum operating field, respectively, when comparing bias polarity. The field at which filament formation is observed shows a clear dependence on the electromigration properties of the electrode material and demonstrates that use of electromigration resistant metal electrodes offers an additional route to improving the performance of capacitors using this nanoparticle/polymer composite architecture.
The second part of my thesis focuses on the novel pneumatic printing process that enables manipulation of the crystal growth of the organic semiconductors to achieve oriented crystal with high mobility. Small molecule organic semiconductors are attracting immense attention as the active material for the large-area flexible electronics due to their solution processability, mechanical flexibility, and potential for high performance. However, the ability to rapidly pattern and deposit multiple materials and control the thin-film morphology are significant challenges facing industrial scale production. A novel and simple pneumatic nozzle printing approach is developed to control the crystallization of organic thin-films and deposit multiple materials with wide range of viscosity including on the same substrate. Pneumatic printing uses capillary action between the nozzle and substrate combined with control of air pressure to dispense the solution from a dispense tip with a reservoir. Orientation and size of the crystals is controlled by tuning the printing direction, speed, and the temperature of the substrate.
The main advantages of pneumatic printing technique are 1) simple setup and process, 2) multi-material layered deposition applicable to wide range of solution viscosity, 3) control over crystal growth. The manipulation of crystal growth will be discussed in the next chapter. This method for performance optimization and patterning has great potential for advancing printed electronics.
The dependence of the mobility of printed thin film 6,13-bis(triisopropylsilylethynyl) pentacene [TIPS-pentacene] and C8-BTBT on printing conditions is investigated, and the result indicates that the formation of well-ordered crystals occurs at an optimal head translation speed. A maximum mobility of 0.75 cm²/(Vs) is achieved with 0.3 mm/s printing speed and 1.3 cm²/(Vs) with 0.3 mm/s printing speed at 50C for TIPS-pentacene and C8-BTBT respectively. In summary, pneumatic printing technique can be an attractive route to industrial scale large area flexible electronics fabrication.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Electrical Engineering
Thesis Advisors
Kymissis, Ioannis
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
October 7, 2016