Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Diode


The grand vision of manufacturing large-area emissive devices with low-cost roll-to-roll coating methods, akin to how newspapers are produced, appeared with the emergence of the organic light-emitting diode about 20 years ago. Today, small organic light-emitting diode displays are commercially available in smartphones, but the promise of a continuous ambient fabrication has unfortunately not materialized yet, as organic light-emitting diodes invariably depend on the use of one or more time- and energy-consuming process steps under vacuum. Here we report an all-solution-based fabrication of an alternative emissive device, a light-emitting electrochemical cell, using a slot-die roll-coating apparatus. The fabricated flexible sheets exhibit bidirectional and uniform light emission, and feature a fault-tolerant >1-μm-thick active material that is doped in situ during operation. It is notable that the initial preparation of inks, the subsequent coating of the constituent layers and the final device operation all could be executed under ambient air.

Concepts: Cathode, Vacuum tube, Light, Solar cell, Electrode, Light-emitting diode, Diode, Light-emitting diodes


We describe the first implanted glucose biofuel cell (GBFC) that is capable of generating sufficient power from a mammal’s body fluids to act as the sole power source for electronic devices. This GBFC is based on carbon nanotube/enzyme electrodes, which utilize glucose oxidase for glucose oxidation and laccase for dioxygen reduction. The GBFC, implanted in the abdominal cavity of a rat, produces an average open-circuit voltage of 0.57 V. This implanted GBFC delivered a power output of 38.7 μW, which corresponded to a power density of 193.5 μW cm(-2) and a volumetric power of 161 μW mL(-1). We demonstrate that one single implanted enzymatic GBFC can power a light-emitting diode (LED), or a digital thermometer. In addition, no signs of rejection or inflammation were observed after 110 days implantation in the rat.

Concepts: Adenosine triphosphate, Enzyme, Glucose, Redox, Carbon, Rat, Light-emitting diode, Diode


A detailed study of high-field transient and direct-current (DC) transport in GaN-based Gunn diode oscillators is carried out using the commercial simulator Sentaurus Device. Applicability of drift-diffusion (DD) and hydrodynamic (HD) models to high-speed, high-frequency devices is discussed in depth, and the results of the simulations from these models are compared. It is shown, for a highly homogeneous device based on a short (2 mum) supercritically doped (1017 cm-3) GaN specimen, that the DD model is unable to correctly take into account some essential physical effects which determine the operation mode of the device. At the same time, the HD model is ideally suited to solve such problems due to its ability to incorporate non-local effects. We show that the velocity overshoot near the device contacts and space charge injection and extraction play a crucial role in defining the operation mode of highly homogeneous short diodes in both the transient regime and the voltage-controlled oscillation regime. The transient conduction current responses are fundamentally different in the DD and HD models. The DD current simply repeats the velocity-field (v-F) characteristics, and the sample remains in a completely homogeneous state. In the HD model, the transient current pulse with a full width at half maximum of approximately 0.2 ps is increased about twofold due to the carrier injection (extraction) into (from) the active region and the velocity overshoot. The electron gas is characterized by highly inhomogeneous distributions of the carrier density, the electric field and the electron temperature. The simulation of the DC steady states of the diodes also shows very different results for the two models. The HD model shows the trapped stable anodic domain in the device, while the DD model completely retains all features of the v-F characteristics in a homogeneous gas. Simulation of the voltage-controlled oscillator shows that it operates in the accumulation layer mode generating microwave signals at 0.3 to 0.7 THz. In spite of the fact that the known criterion of a Gunn domain mode n0L > (n0L)0 was satisfied, no Gunn domains were observed. The explanation of this phenomenon is given.

Concepts: Electron, Laser, Oscillation, Diode, Microwave, Electronic oscillator, Gunn diode, Tunnel diode


We report an enhancement in light emission efficiency of Si nanocrystal (NC) light-emitting diodes (LEDs) by employing 5.5 periods of SiCN/SiC superlattices (SLs). SiCN and SiC layers in SiCN/SiC SLs were designed by considering the optical bandgap to induce the uniform electron sheet parallel to the SL planes. The electrical property of Si NC LED with SiCN/SiC SLs was improved. In addition, light output power and wall-plug efficiency of the Si NC LED with SiCN/SiC SLs were also enhanced by 50% and 40%, respectively. This was attributed to both the formation of two-dimensional electron gas, i.e., uniform electron sheet parallel to the SiCN/SiC SL planes due to the conduction band offset between the SiCN layer and SiC layer, and an enhanced electron transport into the Si NCs due to a lower tunneling barrier height. We show here that the use of the SiCN/SiC SL structure can be very useful in realizing a highly efficient Si NC LED.

Concepts: Quantum dot, Semiconductor, Light-emitting diode, Lighting, Diode, Luminous efficacy, Aluminium nitride, LED lamp


Chlorophyll a fluorometry has long been used as a method to study phytoplankton in the ocean. In situ fluorometry is used frequently in oceanography to provide depth-resolved estimates of phytoplankton biomass. However, the high price of commercially manufactured in situ fluorometers has made them unavailable to some individuals and institutions. Presented here is an investigation into building an in situ fluorometer using low cost electronics. The goal was to construct an easily reproducible in situ fluorometer from simple and widely available electronic components. The simplicity and modest cost of the sensor makes it valuable to students and professionals alike. Open source sharing of architecture and software will allow students to reconstruct and customize the sensor on a small budget. Research applications that require numerous in situ fluorometers or expendable fluorometers can also benefit from this study. The sensor costs US$150.00 and can be constructed with little to no previous experience. The sensor uses a blue LED to excite chlorophyll a and measures fluorescence using a silicon photodiode. The sensor is controlled by an Arduino microcontroller that also serves as a data logger.

Concepts: Fluorescence, Fluorescence spectroscopy, Diode, Ocean, Transducer, Infrared, Pulse oximeter, Fluorometer


Recent advances in materials, mechanics, and electronic device design are rapidly establishing the foundations for health monitoring technologies that have “skin-like” properties, with options in chronic (weeks) integration with the epidermis. The resulting capabilities in physiological sensing greatly exceed those possible with conventional hard electronic systems, such as those found in wrist-mounted wearables, because of the intimate skin interface. However, most examples of such emerging classes of devices require batteries and/or hard-wired connections to enable operation. The work reported here introduces active optoelectronic systems that function without batteries and in an entirely wireless mode, with examples in thin, stretchable platforms designed for multiwavelength optical characterization of the skin. Magnetic inductive coupling and near-field communication (NFC) schemes deliver power to multicolored light-emitting diodes and extract digital data from integrated photodetectors in ways that are compatible with standard NFC-enabled platforms, such as smartphones and tablet computers. Examples in the monitoring of heart rate and temporal dynamics of arterial blood flow, in quantifying tissue oxygenation and ultraviolet dosimetry, and in performing four-color spectroscopic evaluation of the skin demonstrate the versatility of these concepts. The results have potential relevance in both hospital care and at-home diagnostics.

Concepts: Blood, Skin, Photodiode, Diode, Electronics, Electronic engineering, Digital, Multi-touch


The miniaturization of electronic devices has been the principal driving force behind the semiconductor industry, and has brought about major improvements in computational power and energy efficiency. Although advances with silicon-based electronics continue to be made, alternative technologies are being explored. Digital circuits based on transistors fabricated from carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have the potential to outperform silicon by improving the energy-delay product, a metric of energy efficiency, by more than an order of magnitude. Hence, CNTs are an exciting complement to existing semiconductor technologies. Owing to substantial fundamental imperfections inherent in CNTs, however, only very basic circuit blocks have been demonstrated. Here we show how these imperfections can be overcome, and demonstrate the first computer built entirely using CNT-based transistors. The CNT computer runs an operating system that is capable of multitasking: as a demonstration, we perform counting and integer-sorting simultaneously. In addition, we implement 20 different instructions from the commercial MIPS instruction set to demonstrate the generality of our CNT computer. This experimental demonstration is the most complex carbon-based electronic system yet realized. It is a considerable advance because CNTs are prominent among a variety of emerging technologies that are being considered for the next generation of highly energy-efficient electronic systems.

Concepts: Vacuum tube, Integrated circuit, Transistor, Carbon nanotube, Computer, Diode, Electronics, Electronic engineering


Temperature is one of the most important environmental stimuli to record and amplify. While traditional thermoelectric materials are attractive for temperature/heat flow sensing applications, their sensitivity is limited by their low Seebeck coefficient (∼100 μV K(-1)). Here we take advantage of the large ionic thermoelectric Seebeck coefficient found in polymer electrolytes (∼10,000 μV K(-1)) to introduce the concept of ionic thermoelectric gating a low-voltage organic transistor. The temperature sensing amplification of such ionic thermoelectric-gated devices is thousands of times superior to that of a single thermoelectric leg in traditional thermopiles. This suggests that ionic thermoelectric sensors offer a way to go beyond the limitations of traditional thermopiles and pyroelectric detectors. These findings pave the way for new infrared-gated electronic circuits with potential applications in photonics, thermography and electronic-skins.

Concepts: Energy, Thermodynamics, Transistor, Diode, Electronics, Thermoelectric effect, Organic semiconductor, Amplifier


Electronics on very thin substrates have shown remarkable bendability, conformability and lightness, which are important attributes for biological tissues sensing, wearable or implantable devices. Here we propose a wafer-scale process scheme to realize ultra flexible, lightweight and transparent electronics on top of a 1-μm thick parylene film that is released from the carrier substrate after the dissolution in water of a polyvinyl- alcohol layer. The thin substrate ensures extreme flexibility, which is demonstrated by transistors that continue to work when wrapped around human hairs. In parallel, the use of amorphous oxide semiconductor and high-K dielectric enables the realization of analogue amplifiers operating at 12 V and above 1 MHz. Electronics can be transferred on any object, surface and on biological tissues like human skin and plant leaves. We foresee a potential application as smart contact lenses, covered with light, transparent and flexible devices, which could serve to monitor intraocular pressure for glaucoma disease.

Concepts: Skin, Transistor, Intraocular pressure, Tissue, Fern, Diode, Electronic engineering, Transistors


Molecular electronics aims to miniaturize electronic devices by using subnanometre-scale active components. A single-molecule diode, a circuit element that directs current flow, was first proposed more than 40 years ago and consisted of an asymmetric molecule comprising a donor-bridge-acceptor architecture to mimic a semiconductor p-n junction. Several single-molecule diodes have since been realized in junctions featuring asymmetric molecular backbones, molecule-electrode linkers or electrode materials. Despite these advances, molecular diodes have had limited potential for applications due to their low conductance, low rectification ratios, extreme sensitivity to the junction structure and high operating voltages. Here, we demonstrate a powerful approach to induce current rectification in symmetric single-molecule junctions using two electrodes of the same metal, but breaking symmetry by exposing considerably different electrode areas to an ionic solution. This allows us to control the junction’s electrostatic environment in an asymmetric fashion by simply changing the bias polarity. With this method, we reliably and reproducibly achieve rectification ratios in excess of 200 at voltages as low as 370 mV using a symmetric oligomer of thiophene-1,1-dioxide. By taking advantage of the changes in the junction environment induced by the presence of an ionic solution, this method provides a general route for tuning nonlinear nanoscale device phenomena, which could potentially be applied in systems beyond single-molecule junctions.

Concepts: Cathode, Vacuum tube, Semiconductor, Transistor, Electrode, Diode, Electronics, P-n junction