Because of their mechanical flexibility, organic transistors have tremendous potential to improve the functionality of pacemakers, hearing aids and related medical devices, but the sensitivity to heat and the power requirements of conventional transistors pose an obstacle. Japanese researchers say they have found a work-around.
Organic thin-film transistors typically cannot withstand sterilisation at high temperatures. Moreover, they require 20 to 80 V of power to function, making it very challenging to use them in devices that come into contact with, or are implanted in, the human body. A research team led by Tokyo University Professor Takao Someyahas succeeded in creating flexible, thin-film organic transistors that preserve thermal stability at temperatures up to 150°C, making them suitable for sterilisation. And, this new breed of transistors requires just 2 V to operate.
Further research will be conducted to understand how these transistors will perform if they are used in medical applications that require implantation in the human body for a long period of time. Researchers say they hope to commercialise the new technology in the medical device sector soon.
The study was published in the online edition of Nature Communications on 6 March. This university-led project was funded by the Japan Science and Technology Agency, as part of the agency’s Exploratory Research for Advanced Technology (ERATO) funding programme.