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

Concept: Transistor


The timely detection of viremia in HIV-infected patients receiving antiviral treatment is key to ensuring effective therapy and preventing the emergence of drug resistance. In high HIV burden settings, the cost and complexity of diagnostics limit their availability. We have developed a novel complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) chip based, pH-mediated, point-of-care HIV-1 viral load monitoring assay that simultaneously amplifies and detects HIV-1 RNA. A novel low-buffer HIV-1 pH-LAMP (loop-mediated isothermal amplification) assay was optimised and incorporated into a pH sensitive CMOS chip. Screening of 991 clinical samples (164 on the chip) yielded a sensitivity of 95% (in vitro) and 88.8% (on-chip) at >1000 RNA copies/reaction across a broad spectrum of HIV-1 viral clades. Median time to detection was 20.8 minutes in samples with >1000 copies RNA. The sensitivity, specificity and reproducibility are close to that required to produce a point-of-care device which would be of benefit in resource poor regions, and could be performed on an USB stick or similar low power device.

Concepts: Antiretroviral drug, HIV, Viral load, Type I and type II errors, Integrated circuit, Transistor, CMOS, File system


Electronic plants, e-Plants, are an organic bioelectronic platform that allows electronic interfacing with plants. Recently we have demonstrated plants with augmented electronic functionality. Using the vascular system and organs of a plant, we manufactured organic electronic devices and circuits in vivo, leveraging the internal structure and physiology of the plant as the template, and an integral part of the devices. However, this electronic functionality was only achieved in localized regions, whereas new electronic materials that could be distributed to every part of the plant would provide versatility in device and circuit fabrication and create possibilities for new device concepts. Here we report the synthesis of such a conjugated oligomer that can be distributed and form longer oligomers and polymer in every part of the xylem vascular tissue of a Rosa floribunda cutting, forming long-range conducting wires. The plant’s structure acts as a physical template, whereas the plant’s biochemical response mechanism acts as the catalyst for polymerization. In addition, the oligomer can cross through the veins and enter the apoplastic space in the leaves. Finally, using the plant’s natural architecture we manufacture supercapacitors along the stem. Our results are preludes to autonomous energy systems integrated within plants and distribute interconnected sensor-actuator systems for plant control and optimization.

Concepts: Protein, Blood, Integrated circuit, Monomer, Transistor, Vascular plant, Fern, Vascular tissue


Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are tantalizing candidates for semiconductor electronics because of their exceptional charge transport properties and one-dimensional electrostatics. Ballistic transport approaching the quantum conductance limit of 2G 0 = 4e (2)/h has been achieved in field-effect transistors (FETs) containing one CNT. However, constraints in CNT sorting, processing, alignment, and contacts give rise to nonidealities when CNTs are implemented in densely packed parallel arrays such as those needed for technology, resulting in a conductance per CNT far from 2G 0. The consequence has been that, whereas CNTs are ultimately expected to yield FETs that are more conductive than conventional semiconductors, CNTs, instead, have underperformed channel materials, such as Si, by sixfold or more. We report quasi-ballistic CNT array FETs at a density of 47 CNTs μm(-1), fabricated through a combination of CNT purification, solution-based assembly, and CNT treatment. The conductance is as high as 0.46 G 0 per CNT. In parallel, the conductance of the arrays reaches 1.7 mS μm(-1), which is seven times higher than the previous state-of-the-art CNT array FETs made by other methods. The saturated on-state current density is as high as 900 μA μm(-1) and is similar to or exceeds that of Si FETs when compared at and equivalent gate oxide thickness and at the same off-state current density. The on-state current density exceeds that of GaAs FETs as well. This breakthrough in CNT array performance is a critical advance toward the exploitation of CNTs in logic, high-speed communications, and other semiconductor electronics technologies.

Concepts: Electric charge, Carbon, Integrated circuit, Semiconductor, Silicon, Transistor, Carbon nanotube, Germanium


Precise control over processing, transport and delivery of ionic and molecular signals is of great importance in numerous fields of life sciences. Integrated circuits based on ion transistors would be one approach to route and dispense complex chemical signal patterns to achieve such control. To date several types of ion transistors have been reported; however, only individual devices have so far been presented and most of them are not functional at physiological salt concentrations. Here we report integrated chemical logic gates based on ion bipolar junction transistors. Inverters and NAND gates of both npn type and complementary type are demonstrated. We find that complementary ion gates have higher gain and lower power consumption, as compared with the single transistor-type gates, which imitates the advantages of complementary logics found in conventional electronics. Ion inverters and NAND gates lay the groundwork for further development of solid-state chemical delivery circuits.

Concepts: Molecule, Chemistry, Integrated circuit, Transistor, Bipolar junction transistor, Electronics, Logic gate, MOSFET


The newly proposed in-plane resonant nano-electro-mechanical (IP R-NEM) sensor, that includes a doubly clamped suspended beam and two side electrodes, achieved a mass sensitivity of less than zepto g/Hz based on analytical and numerical analyses. The high frequency characterization and numerical/analytical studies of the fabricated sensor show that the high vacuum measurement environment will ease the resonance detection using the capacitance detection technique if only the thermoelsatic damping plays a dominant role for the total quality factor of the sensor. The usage of the intrinsic junction-less field-effect-transistor (JL FET) for the resonance detection of the sensor provides a more practical detection method for this sensor. As the second proposed sensor, the introduction of the monolithically integrated in-plane MOSFET with the suspended beam provides another solution for the ease of resonance frequency detection with similar operation to the junction-less transistor in the IP R-NEM sensor. The challenging fabrication technology for the in-plane resonant suspended gate field-effect-transistor (IP RSG-FET) sensor results in some post processing and simulation steps to fully explore and improve the direct current (DC) characteristics of the sensor for the consequent high frequency measurement. The results of modeling and characterization in this research provide a realistic guideline for these potential ultra-sensitive NEM sensors.

Concepts: Transistor, Resonance, Harmonic oscillator, Optical cavity, Electronics terms, Damping, RLC circuit, Q factor


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


The simplification of fabrication processes that can define very fine patterns for large-area flexible radio-frequency (RF) applications is very desirable because it is generally very challenging to realize submicron scale patterns on flexible substrates. Conventional nanoscale patterning methods, such as e-beam lithography, cannot be easily applied to such applications. On the other hand, recent advances in nanoimprinting lithography (NIL) may enable the fabrication of large-area nanoelectronics, especially flexible RF electronics with finely defined patterns, thereby significantly broadening RF applications. Here we report a generic strategy for fabricating high-performance flexible Si nanomembrane (NM)-based RF thin-film transistors (TFTs), capable of over 100 GHz operation in theory, with NIL patterned deep-submicron-scale channel lengths. A unique 3-dimensional etched-trench-channel configuration was used to allow for TFT fabrication compatible with flexible substrates. Optimal device parameters were obtained through device simulation to understand the underlying device physics and to enhance device controllability. Experimentally, a record-breaking 38 GHz maximum oscillation frequency fmax value has been successfully demonstrated from TFTs with a 2 μm gate length built with flexible Si NM on plastic substrates.

Concepts: Nanotechnology, Semiconductor, Transistor, Frequency, Hertz, Pattern, International System of Units, Length


Today’s consumer electronics, such as cell phones, tablets and other portable electronic devices, are typically made of non-renewable, non-biodegradable, and sometimes potentially toxic (for example, gallium arsenide) materials. These consumer electronics are frequently upgraded or discarded, leading to serious environmental contamination. Thus, electronic systems consisting of renewable and biodegradable materials and minimal amount of potentially toxic materials are desirable. Here we report high-performance flexible microwave and digital electronics that consume the smallest amount of potentially toxic materials on biobased, biodegradable and flexible cellulose nanofibril papers. Furthermore, we demonstrate gallium arsenide microwave devices, the consumer wireless workhorse, in a transferrable thin-film form. Successful fabrication of key electrical components on the flexible cellulose nanofibril paper with comparable performance to their rigid counterparts and clear demonstration of fungal biodegradation of the cellulose-nanofibril-based electronics suggest that it is feasible to fabricate high-performance flexible electronics using ecofriendly materials.

Concepts: Vacuum tube, Electricity, Integrated circuit, Transistor, Capacitor, Electronics, Radio, 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


A remarkable feature of modern silicon electronics is its ability to remain physically invariant, almost indefinitely for practical purposes. Although this characteristic is a hallmark of applications of integrated circuits that exist today, there might be opportunities for systems that offer the opposite behavior, such as implantable devices that function for medically useful time frames but then completely disappear via resorption by the body. We report a set of materials, manufacturing schemes, device components, and theoretical design tools for a silicon-based complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology that has this type of transient behavior, together with integrated sensors, actuators, power supply systems, and wireless control strategies. An implantable transient device that acts as a programmable nonantibiotic bacteriocide provides a system-level example.

Concepts: Oxygen, Engineering, Integrated circuit, Semiconductor device, Transistor, Germanium, CMOS, Logic gate