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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Manipulating nanoscale structure to control functionality in printed organic photovoltaic, transistor and bioelectronic devices


Printed electronics is simultaneously one of the most intensely studied emerging research areas in science and technology and one of the fastest growing commercial markets in the world today. For the past decade the potential for organic electronic (OE) materials to revolutionize this printed electronics space has been widely promoted. Such conviction in the potential of these carbon-based semiconducting materials arises from their ability to be dissolved in solution, and thus the exciting possibility of simply printing a range of multifunctional devices onto flexible substrates at high speeds for very low cost using standard roll-to-roll printing techniques. However, the transition from promising laboratory innovations to large scale prototypes requires precise control of nanoscale material and device structure across large areas during printing fabrication. Maintaining this nanoscale material control during printing presents a significant new challenge that demands the coupling of OE materials and devices with clever nanoscience fabrication approaches that are adapted to the limited thermodynamic levers available. In this review we present an update on the strategies and capabilities that are required in order to manipulate the nanoscale structure of large area printed organic photovoltaic (OPV), transistor and bioelectronics devices in order to control their device functionality. This discussion covers a range of efforts to manipulate the electroactive ink materials and their nanostructured assembly into devices, and also device processing strategies to tune the nanoscale material properties and assembly routes through printing fabrication. The review finishes by highlighting progress in printed OE devices that provide a feedback loop between laboratory nanoscience innovations and their feasibility in adapting to large scale printing fabrication. The ability to control material properties on the nanoscale whilst simultaneously printing functional devices on the square metre scale is prompting innovative developments in the targeted nanoscience required for OPV, transistor and biofunctional devices.

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