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Stanford Makes Flexible Carbon Nanotube Circuits More Reliable and Power Efficient

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A Stanford engineer demonstrates the flexibility of a carbon nanotube circuit.

Stanford engineers have developed an improved process for making flexible circuits that use carbon nanotube transistors, a development that paves the way for a new generation of bendable electronic devices.

Credit: Bao Lab/Stanford University

Stanford University researchers have developed a process to create flexible chips that can tolerate power fluctuations in much the same way as silicon circuitry.

"This is the first time anyone has designed flexible [carbon nanotube (CNT)] circuits that have both high immunity to electrical noise and low power consumption," says Stanford professor Zhenan Bao.

The challenge facing the Stanford team was that CNTs are normally P-type semiconductors and there was no easy way to dope the carbon filaments to add N-type characteristics. To solve the problem, the researchers treated CNTs with a chemical dopant they developed known as DMBI, and they used an inkjet printer to deposit the substance in precise locations on the circuit.

The research marked the first time any flexible CNT circuit has been doped to create a P-N blend that can operate reliably despite power fluctuations and with low power consumption. Other engineers have previously doped rigid CNTs to generate this immunity to electrical noise, but the researchers say their process outperforms previous efforts, and suggest it could be useful for both flexible and rigid CNT circuitry.

From Stanford University
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