Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Electrical Engineering

Major Professor

Wilfrido Moreno

Co-Major Professor

Srinivas Tipparaju

Keywords

flexible cardiac sensor, low voltage bioelectronics, vertical transistor, VOFET, wet electronics

Abstract

The following dissertation addresses a novel low cost process developed to fabricate a Vertical Organic Field Effect Transistor (VOFET). The solution processable VOFET is designed, fabricated and tested in the context of bioengineering domains. The scope of distinct biomedical applications has also been explored.

Organic thin-film transistors are gathering industrial attention as a potential candidate for future electronics analogous to silicon technology. Low fabrication cost, structural miniaturization and low operational voltage are the challenges for fabricating an Organic Field Effect Transistor (OFET). To create these devices, OFETs require new design paradigms and wet processing routes. However, conventional lateral OFET geometry cannot satisfy these demands because of process complexities and the high cost to achieve sub-micron channel length. Despite these barriers, solvent sensitivity towards organic semiconductors, electrode patterning and masking make this process more challenging than are associated with current technologies. Therefore, the need for production of a low cost high efficiency OFET is of high importance. The soluble organic semiconductor exhibits promising device properties. The growing demand of organic electronics poses great difficulty in adapting standard photolithography patterning for fabrication. The main issue is incompatibility in handling organic materials. To circumvent these challenges, a novel fabrication process has been developed to build OFETs in vertical geometry. The novelty of this process allows for creation of sub-micron channel devices at very low cost.

Solution processed VOFET devices are fabricated using a 13,6-N-sulfinylacetamidopentacene (NSFAAP) precursor. Low cost fabrication techniques such as spin coating and drop casting are employed for achieving submicron channel length. Nanoscale devices, i.e. channel lengths, L=265nm, 300nm and 535nm, are respectively fabricated using the spin coating technique. Output characteristics are recorded at an operational voltage of 1volt. Short channel effects dominate the device performance, resulting in a linearity effect in I-V characteristics. Strategies, such as perforated source electrode design and drop casting techniques, are evolved and employed to minimize the short channel effects.

Space Charge Limited Current (SCLC) effects, better known as short channel effects, are observed during I-V characterizations at high longitudinal fields. The drop casting technique is used over Patterned Electrode (PE) for reducing these SCLC effects. Thick channel devices, i.e. L=2µm, are fabricated to minimize the SCLC effects. Low cost polyimide 3M kapton tape is used as masking material in between the stacked layers. Time-temperature balance is optimized during the precursor to pentacene growth process. Metrological characterizations such as TEM, SEM, AFM, Raman Spectroscopy and X-RD are performed to confirm the precursor to pentacene conversion. AFM scanning illustrates dendritic pentacene molecular growth at 170°C annealing. Consequently, the conversion temperature is optimized around 200°C.

In life sciences, there is always striving for translational technology development that can mimic, integrate and manipulate the biological system. Electrical signals enhance the capabilities of electronics to interact and understand the signaling pathways in a biological system. Keeping this in view, the potential applications into biomedical areas, such as flexible sensors and biomedical imagers, are proposed. VOFET has been proposed as a mainstay for flexible cardiac sensors and as imagers. OFET sensors could be designed to cover highly stretchy and arbitrary cardiac tissue. Sensor web integration with pacemakers and Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) device systems has been proposed. The OFET imaging sensor holds potential for early detection of cancer by detecting nuclear level changes in breast cancer images. Nuclear pleomorphic (shape and size distortion of cancerous nuclei) feature detection and analysis could be a step forward in the direction of digital pathology. The conventional analysis approach is time-consuming and error prone as it depends on visual inspection by pathologists. The proposed approach is parallel in nature and supports the existing method of cancer detection.

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