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Volume 39, Issue 1, Jan 2018

    Special Issue on Flexible and Wearable Electronics: from Materials to Applications

  • Preface

    Guozhen Shen, Yongfeng Mei, Chuan Wang, Taeyoon Lee

    Abstract PDF

    Electronic systems that can cover large areas on flexible/ stretchable substrates have received increasing attention in the past several years because they enable new classes of applications that lie outside those easily addressed with wafer-based microelectronics. Some attractive examples include flexible displays, flexible solar cells, electronic textiles, sensory skins, detectors, active antennas, etc. The field expends very fast and great developments have been obtained during the past several years. Recent exciting progresses such as highly flexible/stretchable E-skins, large area flexible displays, highly sensitive sensors, wearable electronic devices suggest that there are still a lot of room needs to be exploited including materials, devices and systems.

    In this special issue, we organized a special issue on flexible and wearable electronics. Our aim is to highlight remarkable contributions made by the leading scientists in this important research area and broad impacts of flexible and wearable electronics. This special issue contains 12 review articles and 6 original research articles. One important issue include in this special issue collection is materials used for flexible/wearable electronics such as carbon nanomaterials, graphene, metal oxides, organic semiconductors, silicon, etc. Materials processing and flexible device fabrication techniques are also included in this special issue such as atomic layer deposition to metal oxides for thin-film transistors, printing techniques to flexible or stretchable circuits, etc. Another important issue includes in this issue is flexible electronic devices such as flexible sensors, textile energy storage devices and biosensors, flexible thin-film transistors, magnetic thin film devices, organic optoelectronic devices, stretchable human-machine interface, etc.

    We sincerely hope that this special issue could provide a valuable reference and perspective for the research community working in this exciting field and inspire many more to enter this field. We would like to thank all the authors who have contributed high-quality peer-reviewed articles to this special issue. We are also grateful to the editorial and production staff of Journal of Semiconductors for their superb assistance.


  • Recent progress of flexible and wearable strain sensors for human-motion monitoring

    Gang Ge, Wei Huang, Jinjun Shao, Xiaochen Dong

    J. Semicond.  2018, 39(1): 011012

    doi: 10.1088/1674-4926/39/1/011012

    Abstract Full Text PDF Get Citation

    With the rapid development of human artificial intelligence and the inevitably expanding markets, the past two decades have witnessed an urgent demand for the flexible and wearable devices, especially the flexible strain sensors. Flexible strain sensors, incorporated the merits of stretchability, high sensitivity and skin-mountable, are emerging as an extremely charming domain in virtue of their promising applications in artificial intelligent realms, human-machine systems and health-care devices. In this review, we concentrate on the transduction mechanisms, building blocks of flexible physical sensors, subsequently property optimization in terms of device structures and sensing materials in the direction of practical applications. Perspectives on the existing challenges are also highlighted in the end.

  • INVITED REVIEW PAPERS

  • Engineering in-plane silicon nanowire springs for highly stretchable electronics

    Zhaoguo Xue, Taige Dong, Zhimin Zhu, Yaolong Zhao, Ying Sun, Linwei Yu

    J. Semicond.  2018, 39(1): 011001

    doi: 10.1088/1674-4926/39/1/011001

    Abstract Full Text PDF Get Citation

    Crystalline silicon (c-Si) is unambiguously the most important semiconductor that underpins the development of modern microelectronics and optoelectronics, though the rigid and brittle nature of bulk c-Si makes it difficult to implement directly for stretchable applications. Fortunately, the one-dimensional (1D) geometry, or the line-shape, of Si nanowire (SiNW) can be engineered into elastic springs, which indicates an exciting opportunity to fabricate highly stretchable 1D c-Si channels. The implementation of such line-shape-engineering strategy demands both a tiny diameter of the SiNWs, in order to accommodate the strains under large stretching, and a precise growth location, orientation and path control to facilitate device integration. In this review, we will first introduce the recent progresses of an in-plane self-assembly growth of SiNW springs, via a new in-plane solid-liquid-solid (IPSLS) mechanism, where mono-like but elastic SiNW springs are produced by surface-running metal droplets that absorb amorphous Si thin film as precursor. Then, the critical growth control and engineering parameters, the mechanical properties of the SiNW springs and the prospects of developing c-Si based stretchable electronics, will be addressed. This efficient line-shape-engineering strategy of SiNW springs, accomplished via a low temperature batch-manufacturing, holds a strong promise to extend the legend of modern Si technology into the emerging stretchable electronic applications, where the high carrier mobility, excellent stability and established doping and passivation controls of c-Si can be well inherited.

  • Printable inorganic nanomaterials for flexible transparent electrodes: from synthesis to application

    Dingrun Wang, Yongfeng Mei, Gaoshan Huang

    J. Semicond.  2018, 39(1): 011002

    doi: 10.1088/1674-4926/39/1/011002

    Abstract Full Text PDF Get Citation

    Printed and flexible electronics are definitely promising cutting-edge electronic technologies of the future. They offer a wide-variety of applications such as flexible circuits, flexible displays, flexible solar cells, skin-like pressure sensors, and radio frequency identification tags in our daily life. As the most-fundamental component of electronics, electrodes are made of conductive materials that play a key role in flexible and printed electronic devices. In this review, various inorganic conductive materials and strategies for obtaining highly conductive and uniform electrodes are demonstrated. Applications of printed electrodes fabricated via these strategies are also described. Nevertheless, there are a number of challenges yet to overcome to optimize the processing and performance of printed electrodes.

  • Materials and applications of bioresorbable electronics

    Xian Huang

    J. Semicond.  2018, 39(1): 011003

    doi: 10.1088/1674-4926/39/1/011003

    Abstract Full Text PDF Get Citation

    Bioresorbable electronics is a new type of electronics technology that can potentially lead to biodegradable and dissolvable electronic devices to replace current built-to-last circuits predominantly used in implantable devices and consumer electronics. Such devices dissolve in an aqueous environment in time periods from seconds to months, and generate biological safe products. This paper reviews materials, fabrication techniques, and applications of bioresorbable electronics, and aims to inspire more revolutionary bioresorbable systems that can generate broader social and economic impact. Existing challenges and potential solutions in developing bioresorbable electronics have also been presented to arouse more joint research efforts in this field to build systematic technology framework.

  • The applications of carbon nanomaterials in fiber-shaped energy storage devices

    Jingxia Wu, Yang Hong, Bingjie Wang

    J. Semicond.  2018, 39(1): 011004

    doi: 10.1088/1674-4926/39/1/011004

    Abstract Full Text PDF Get Citation

    As a promising candidate for future demand, fiber-shaped electrochemical energy storage devices, such as supercapacitors and lithium-ion batteries have obtained considerable attention from academy to industry. Carbon nanomaterials, such as carbon nanotube and graphene, have been widely investigated as electrode materials due to their merits of light weight, flexibility and high capacitance. In this review, recent progress of carbon nanomaterials in flexible fiber-shaped energy storage devices has been summarized in accordance with the development of fibrous electrodes, including the diversified electrode preparation, functional and intelligent device structure, and large-scale production of fibrous electrodes or devices.

  • Oxide-based thin film transistors for flexible electronics

    Yongli He, Xiangyu Wang, Ya Gao, Yahui Hou, Qing Wan

    J. Semicond.  2018, 39(1): 011005

    doi: 10.1088/1674-4926/39/1/011005

    Abstract Full Text PDF Get Citation

    The continuous progress in thin film materials and devices has greatly promoted the development in the field of flexible electronics. As one of the most common thin film devices, thin film transistors (TFTs) are significant building blocks for flexible platforms. Flexible oxide-based TFTs are well compatible with flexible electronic systems due to low process temperature, high carrier mobility, and good uniformity. The present article is a review of the recent progress and major trends in the field of flexible oxide-based thin film transistors. First, an introduction of flexible electronics and flexible oxide-based thin film transistors is given. Next, we introduce oxide semiconductor materials and various flexible oxide-based TFTs classified by substrate materials including polymer plastics, paper sheets, metal foils, and flexible thin glass. Afterwards, applications of flexible oxide-based TFTs including bendable sensors, memories, circuits, and displays are presented. Finally, we give conclusions and a prospect for possible development trends.

  • Flexible magnetic thin films and devices

    Ping Sheng, Baomin Wang, Runwei Li

    J. Semicond.  2018, 39(1): 011006

    doi: 10.1088/1674-4926/39/1/011006

    Abstract Full Text PDF Get Citation

    Flexible electronic devices are highly attractive for a variety of applications such as flexible circuit boards, solar cells, paper-like displays, and sensitive skin, due to their stretchable, biocompatible, light-weight, portable, and low cost properties. Due to magnetic devices being important parts of electronic devices, it is essential to study the magnetic properties of magnetic thin films and devices fabricated on flexible substrates. In this review, we mainly introduce the recent progress in flexible magnetic thin films and devices, including the study on the stress-dependent magnetic properties of magnetic thin films and devices, and controlling the properties of flexible magnetic films by stress-related multi-fields, and the design and fabrication of flexible magnetic devices.

  • Graphene-based flexible and wearable electronics

    Tanmoy Das, Bhupendra K. Sharma, Ajit K. Katiyar, Jong-Hyun Ahn

    J. Semicond.  2018, 39(1): 011007

    doi: 10.1088/1674-4926/39/1/011007

    Abstract Full Text PDF Get Citation

    Graphene with an exceptional combination of electronic, optical and outstanding mechanical features has been proved to lead a completely different kind of 2-D electronics. The most exciting feature of graphene is its ultra-thin thickness, that can be conformally contacted to any kind of rough surface without losing much of its transparency and conductivity. Graphene has been explored demonstrating various prototype flexible electronic applications, however, its potentiality has been proven wherever transparent conductive electrodes (TCEs) are needed in a flexible, stretchable format. Graphene-based TCEs in flexible electronic applications showed greatly superior performance over their conventionally available competitor indium tin oxide (ITO). Moreover, enormous applications have been emerging, especially in wearable devices that can be potentially used in our daily life as well as in biomedical areas. However, the production of high-quality, defect-free large area graphene is still a challenge and the main hurdle in the commercialization of flexible and wearable products. The objective of the present review paper is to summarize the progress made so far in graphene-based flexible and wearable applications. The current developments including challenges and future perspectives are also highlighted.

  • Review of recent progresses on flexible oxide semiconductor thin film transistors based on atomic layer deposition processes

    Jiazhen Sheng, Ki-Lim Han, TaeHyun Hong, Wan-Ho Choi, Jin-Seong Park

    J. Semicond.  2018, 39(1): 011008

    doi: 10.1088/1674-4926/39/1/011008

    Abstract Full Text PDF Get Citation

    The current article is a review of recent progress and major trends in the field of flexible oxide thin film transistors (TFTs), fabricating with atomic layer deposition (ALD) processes. The ALD process offers accurate controlling of film thickness and composition as well as ability of achieving excellent uniformity over large areas at relatively low temperatures. First, an introduction is provided on what is the definition of ALD, the difference among other vacuum deposition techniques, and the brief key factors of ALD on flexible devices. Second, considering functional layers in flexible oxide TFT, the ALD process on polymer substrates may improve device performances such as mobility and stability, adopting as buffer layers over the polymer substrate, gate insulators, and active layers. Third, this review consists of the evaluation methods of flexible oxide TFTs under various mechanical stress conditions. The bending radius and repetition cycles are mostly considering for conventional flexible devices. It summarizes how the device has been degraded/changed under various stress types (directions). The last part of this review suggests a potential of each ALD film, including the releasing stress, the optimization of TFT structure, and the enhancement of device performance. Thus, the functional ALD layers in flexible oxide TFTs offer great possibilities regarding anti-mechanical stress films, along with flexible display and information storage application fields.

  • Hybrid functional microfibers for textile electronics and biosensors

    Bichitra Nanda Sahoo, Byungwoo Choi, Jungmok Seo, Taeyoon Lee

    J. Semicond.  2018, 39(1): 011009

    doi: 10.1088/1674-4926/39/1/011009

    Abstract Full Text PDF Get Citation

    Fibers are low-cost substrates that are abundantly used in our daily lives. This review highlights recent advances in the fabrication and application of multifunctional fibers to achieve fibers with unique functions for specific applications ranging from textile electronics to biomedical applications. By incorporating various nanomaterials such as carbon nanomaterials, metallic nanomaterials, and hydrogel-based biomaterials, the functions of fibers can be precisely engineered. This review also highlights the performance of the functional fibers and electronic materials incorporated with textiles and demonstrates their practical application in pressure/tensile sensors, chemical/biosensors, and drug delivery. Textile technologies in which fibers containing biological factors and cells are formed and assembled into constructions with biomimetic properties have attracted substantial attention in the field of tissue engineering. We also discuss the current limitations of functional textile-based devices and their prospects for use in various future applications.

  • Flexible devices: from materials, architectures to applications

    Mingzhi Zou, Yue Ma, Xin Yuan, Yi Hu, Jie Liu, Zhong Jin

    J. Semicond.  2018, 39(1): 011010

    doi: 10.1088/1674-4926/39/1/011010

    Abstract Full Text PDF Get Citation

    Flexible devices, such as flexible electronic devices and flexible energy storage devices, have attracted a significant amount of attention in recent years for their potential applications in modern human lives. The development of flexible devices is moving forward rapidly, as the innovation of methods and manufacturing processes has greatly encouraged the research of flexible devices. This review focuses on advanced materials, architecture designs and abundant applications of flexible devices, and discusses the problems and challenges in current situations of flexible devices. We summarize the discovery of novel materials and the design of new architectures for improving the performance of flexible devices. Finally, we introduce the applications of flexible devices as key components in real life.

  • Recent advances in flexible and wearable organic optoelectronic devices

    Hong Zhu, Yang Shen, Yanqing Li, Jianxin Tang

    J. Semicond.  2018, 39(1): 011011

    doi: 10.1088/1674-4926/39/1/011011

    Abstract Full Text PDF Get Citation

    Flexible and wearable optoelectronic devices have been developing to a new stage due to their unique capacity for the possibility of a variety of wearable intelligent electronics, including bendable smartphones, foldable touch screens and antennas, paper-like displays, and curved and flexible solid-state lighting devices. Before extensive commercial applications, some issues still have to be solved for flexible and wearable optoelectronic devices. In this regard, this review concludes the newly emerging flexible substrate materials, transparent conductive electrodes, device architectures and light manipulation methods. Examples of these components applied for various kinds of devices are also summarized. Finally, perspectives about the bright future of flexible and wearable electronic devices are proposed.

  • SEMICONDUCTOR MATERIALS

  • Silver nanowire/polymer composite soft conductive film fabricated by large-area compatible coating for flexible pressure sensor array

    Sujie Chen, Siying Li, Sai Peng, Yukun Huang, Jiaqing Zhao, Wei Tang, Xiaojun Guo

    J. Semicond.  2018, 39(1): 013001

    doi: 10.1088/1674-4926/39/1/013001

    Abstract Full Text PDF Get Citation

    Soft conductive films composed of a silver nanowire (AgNW) network, a neutral-pH PEDOT:PSS over-coating layer and a polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) elastomer substrate are fabricated by large area compatible coating processes. The neutral-pH PEDOT:PSS layer is shown to be able to significantly improve the conductivity, stretchability and air stability of the conductive films. The soft conductive films are patterned using a simple maskless patterning approach to fabricate an 8 × 8 flexible pressure sensor array. It is shown that such soft conductive films can help to improve the sensitivity and reduce the signal crosstalk over the pressure sensor array.

  • Ultrathin free-standing graphene oxide film based flexible touchless sensor

    Lin Liu, Yingyi Wang, Guanghui Li, Sujie Qin, Ting Zhang

    J. Semicond.  2018, 39(1): 013002

    doi: 10.1088/1674-4926/39/1/013002

    Abstract Full Text PDF Get Citation

    Ultrathin free-standing graphene oxide (GO) films were fabricated by vacuum filtration method assisted with Ni(OH)2 nanosheets as the sacrifice layer. The surface of the obtained GO film is very clean as the Ni(OH)2 nanosheets can be thoroughly etched by HCl. The thickness of the GO films can be well-controlled by changing the volume of GO dispersion, and the thinnest GO film reached ~12 nm. As a novel and transparent dielectric material, the GO film has been applied as the dielectric layer for the flexible touchless capacitive sensor which can effectively distinguish the approaching of an insulator or a conductor.

  • SEMICONDUCTOR DEVICES

  • Stretchable human-machine interface based on skin-conformal sEMG electrodes with self-similar geometry

    Wentao Dong, Chen Zhu, Wei Hu, Lin Xiao, Yong’an Huang

    J. Semicond.  2018, 39(1): 014001

    doi: 10.1088/1674-4926/39/1/014001

    Abstract Full Text PDF Get Citation

    Current stretchable surface electrodes have attracted increasing attention owing to their potential applications in biological signal monitoring, wearable human-machine interfaces (HMIs) and the Internet of Things. The paper proposed a stretchable HMI based on a surface electromyography (sEMG) electrode with a self-similar serpentine configuration. The sEMG electrode was transfer-printed onto the skin surface conformally to monitor biological signals, followed by signal classification and controlling of a mobile robot. Such electrodes can bear rather large deformation (such as >30%) under an appropriate areal coverage. The sEMG electrodes have been used to record electrophysiological signals from different parts of the body with sharp curvature, such as the index finger, back of the neck and face, and they exhibit great potential for HMI in the fields of robotics and healthcare. The electrodes placed onto the two wrists would generate two different signals with the fist clenched and loosened. It is classified to four kinds of signals with a combination of the gestures from the two wrists, that is, four control modes. Experiments demonstrated that the electrodes were successfully used as an HMI to control the motion of a mobile robot remotely.

  • Interfacial engineering of printable bottom back metal electrodes for full-solution processed flexible organic solar cells

    Hongyu Zhen, Kan Li, Yaokang Zhang, Lina Chen, Liyong Niu, Xiaoling Wei, Xu Fang, Peng You, Zhike Liu, Dongrui Wang, Feng Yan, Zijian Zheng

    J. Semicond.  2018, 39(1): 014002

    doi: 10.1088/1674-4926/39/1/014002

    Abstract Full Text PDF Get Citation

    Printing of metal bottom back electrodes of flexible organic solar cells (FOSCs) at low temperature is of great significance to realize the full-solution fabrication technology. However, this has been difficult to achieve because often the interfacial properties of those printed electrodes, including conductivity, roughness, work function, optical and mechanical flexibility, cannot meet the device requirement at the same time. In this work, we fabricate printed Ag and Cu bottom back cathodes by a low-temperature solution technique named polymer-assisted metal deposition (PAMD) on flexible PET substrates. Branched polyethylenimine (PEI) and ZnO thin films are used as the interface modification layers (IMLs) of these cathodes. Detailed experimental studies on the electrical, mechanical, and morphological properties, and simulation study on the optical properties of these IMLs are carried out to understand and optimize the interface of printed cathodes. We demonstrate that the highest power conversion efficiency over 3.0% can be achieved from a full-solution processed OFSC with the device structure being PAMD-Ag/PEI/P3HT:PC61BM/PH1000. This device also acquires remarkable stability upon repeating bending tests.

  • SEMICONDUCTOR INTEGRATED CIRCUITS

  • Inkjet printed large-area flexible circuits: a simple methodology for optimizing the printing quality

    Tao Cheng, Youwei Wu, Xiaoqin Shen, Wenyong Lai, Wei Huang

    J. Semicond.  2018, 39(1): 015001

    doi: 10.1088/1674-4926/39/1/015001

    Abstract Full Text PDF Get Citation

    In this work, a simple methodology was developed to enhance the patterning resolution of inkjet printing, involving process optimization as well as substrate modification and treatment. The line width of the inkjet-printed silver lines was successfully reduced to 1/3 of the original value using this methodology. Large-area flexible circuits with delicate patterns and good morphology were thus fabricated. The resultant flexible circuits showed excellent electrical conductivity as low as 4.5 Ω/□ and strong tolerance to mechanical bending. The simple methodology is also applicable to substrates with various wettability, which suggests a general strategy to enhance the printing quality of inkjet printing for manufacturing high-performance large-area flexible electronics.

  • Printed stretchable circuit on soft elastic substrate for wearable application

    Wei Yuan, Xinzhou Wu, Weibing Gu, Jian Lin, Zheng Cui

    J. Semicond.  2018, 39(1): 015002

    doi: 10.1088/1674-4926/39/1/015002

    Abstract Full Text PDF Get Citation

    In this paper, a flexible and stretchable circuit has been fabricated by the printing method based on Ag NWs/PDMS composite. The randomly oriented Ag NWs were buried in PDMS to form a conductive and stretchable electrode. Stable conductivity was achieved with a large range of tensile strain (0–50%) after the initial stretching/releasing cycle. The stable electrical response is due to the buckling of the Ag NWs/PDMS composite layer. Furthermore, printed stretchable circuits integrated with commercial ICs have been demonstrated for wearable applications.

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