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The Long and Short of Pick-up Stick Transistors: A Promising Technology for Nano- and Macro-Electronics

By Muhammad A. Alam

Purdue University

Published on


In recent years, there has been enormous interest in fabricating thin-film transistors on flexible substrates in the emerging field of large-area macro-electronics. Applications include displays, e-paper, e-clothing, pressure-sensitive skin, large-area chemical and biological sensors, flexible and shape-conformable antennae and radar, as well as intelligent and responsive surfaces with large- area control of temperature, drag and other properties. And of the many technology choices, the so-called ‘pick-up stick’ transistors, based polymers saturated with randomly oriented nanosticks of Silicon Nanowire (Si-NW) or Carbon Nanotubes, appears to be a promising candidate with almost monthly reports of ground-breaking research results for this new technology.

A lack of predictive transport models, however, has stymied the translation of the laboratory experiments to practical, disruptive technology. The challenge is that the classical theory of semiconductor devices, developed over last 50 years in close collaboration with experimentalists, device physicists, numerical analysts, and computer scientists, is no longer appropriate for this new class of transistors with spatially inhomogeneous transport properties. In this talk, I will discuss our recent work in developing a comprehensive theoretical framework to describe the performance of these transistors and show that an intuitive generalization of finite-size stick percolation theory can consistently interpret a broad range of experimental data reported in the literature.


MUHAMMAD ASHRAFUL ALAM is a Professor of ECE at Purdue University where his research and teaching focus on physics, simulation, characterization and technology of classical and novel semiconductor devices including theory of oxide reliability, nanocomposite thin film transistors and nano-bio sensors. From 1995 to 2001, he was with Bell Laboratories, Lucent Technologies, Murray Hill, NJ, as a Member of Technical Staff in the Silicon ULSI Research Department. From 2001 to 2003, he was a Distinguished Member of Technical Staff at Agere Systems, Murray Hill, NJ. He joined Purdue University in 2004.

Dr. Alam has published over 80 papers in international journals and has presented many invited and contributed talks at international conferences. He is an IEEE Fellow and received the 2006 IEEE Kiyo Tomiyasu Award for contributions to device technology for communication systems.

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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Muhammad A. Alam (2006), "The Long and Short of Pick-up Stick Transistors: A Promising Technology for Nano- and Macro-Electronics," https://nanohub.org/resources/1214.

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