Theses Doctoral

The Integration and Applications of Organic Thin Film Transistors and Ferroelectric Polymers

Hsu, Yu-Jen

Organic thin film transistors and ferroelectric polymer (polyvinylidene difluoride) sheet material are integrated to form various sensors for stress/strain, acoustic wave, and Infrared (heat) sensing applications. Different from silicon-based transistors, organic thin film transistors can be fabricated and processed in room-temperature and integrated with a variety of substrates. On the other hand, polyvinylidene difluoride (PVDF) exhibits ferroelectric properties that are highly useful for sensor applications. The wide frequency bandwidth (0.001 Hz to 10 GHz), vast dynamic range (100n to 10M psi), and high elastic compliance (up to 3 percent) make PVDF a more suitable candidate over ceramic piezoelectric materials for thin and flexible sensor applications. However, the low Curie temperature may have impeded its integration with silicon technology. Organic thin film transistors, however, do not have the limitation of processing temperature, hence can serve as transimpedance amplifiers to convert the charge signal generated by PVDF into current signal that are more measurable and less affected by any downstream parasitics. Piezoelectric sensors are useful for a range of applications, but passive arrays suffer from crosstalk and signal attenuation which have complicated the development of array-based PVDF sensors. We have used organic field effect transistors, which are compatible with the low Curie temperature of a flexible piezoelectric polymer,PVDF, to monolithically fabricate transimpedance amplifiers directly on the sensor surface and convert the piezoelectric charge signal into a current signal which can be detected even in the presence of parasitic capacitances. The device couples the voltage generated by the PVDF film under strain into the gate of the organic thin film transistors (OFET) using an arrangement that allows the full piezoelectric voltage to couple to the channel, while also increasing the charge retention time. A bipolar detector is created by using a UV-Ozone treatment to shift the threshold voltage and increase the current of the transistor under both compressive and tensile strain. An array of strain sensors which maps the strain field on a PVDF film surface is demonstrated in this work. The strain sensor experience inspires a tone analyzer built using distributed resonator architecture on a tensioned piezoelectric PVDF sheet. This sheet is used as both the resonator and detection element. Two architectures are demonstrated; one uses distributed directly addressed elements as a proof of concept, and the other integrates organic thin film transistor-based transimpedance amplifiers monolithically with the PVDF sheet to convert the piezoelectric charge signal into a current signal for future applications such as sound field imaging. The PVDF sheet material is instrumented along its length and the amplitude response at 15 sites is recorded and analyzed as a function of the frequency of excitation. The determination of the dominant frequency component of an incoming sound is demonstrated using linear system decomposition of the time-averaged response of the sheet using no time domain detection. Our design allows for the determination of the spectral composition of a sound using the mechanical signal processing provided by the amplitude response and eliminates the need for time-domain electronic signal processing of the incoming signal. The concepts of the PVDF strain sensor and the tone analyzer trigger the idea of an active matrix microphone through the integration of organic thin film transistors with a freestanding piezoelectric polymer sheet. Localized acoustic pressure detection is enabled by switch transistors and local transimpedance amplification built into the active matrix architecture. The frequency of detection ranges from DC to 15KHz; the bandwidth is extended using an architecture that provides for virtually zero gate/source and gate/drain capacitance at the sensing transistors and low overlap capacitance at the switch transistors. A series of measurements are taken to demonstrate localized acoustic wave detection, high pitch sound diffraction pattern mapping, and directional listening. This system permits the direct visualization of a two dimensional sound field in a format that was previously inaccessible. In addition to the piezoelectric property, pyroelectricity is also exhibited by PVDF and is essential in the world of sensors. An integration of PVDF and OFET for the IR heat sensing is demonstrated to prove the concept of converting pyroelectric charge signal to a electric current signal. The basic pyroelectricity of PVDF sheet is first examined before making a organic transistor integrated IR sensor. Then, two types of architectures are designed and tested. The first one uses the structure similar to the PVDF strain sensor, and the second one uses a PVDF capacitor to gate the integrated OFETs. The conversion from pyroelectric signal to transistor current signal is observed and characterized. This design provides a flexible and gain-tunable version for IR heat sensors.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Electrical Engineering
Thesis Advisors
Kymissis, Ioannis
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
February 8, 2012