Inorganic micro/nanostructures-based high-performance flexible electronics for electronic skin application

Navaraj, William Ringal Taube (2019) Inorganic micro/nanostructures-based high-performance flexible electronics for electronic skin application. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Electronics in the future will be printed on diverse substrates, benefiting several emerging applications such as electronic skin (e-skin) for robotics/prosthetics, flexible displays, flexible/conformable biosensors, large area electronics, and implantable devices. For such applications, electronics based on inorganic micro/nanostructures (IMNSs) from high mobility materials such as single crystal silicon and compound semiconductors in the form of ultrathin chips, membranes, nanoribbons (NRs), nanowires (NWs) etc., offer promising high-performance solutions compared to conventional organic materials. This thesis presents an investigation of the various forms of IMNSs for high-performance electronics. Active components (from Silicon) and sensor components (from indium tin oxide (ITO), vanadium pentaoxide (V2O5), and zinc oxide (ZnO)) were realised based on the IMNS for application in artificial tactile skin for prosthetics/robotics.
Inspired by human tactile sensing, a capacitive-piezoelectric tandem architecture was realised with indium tin oxide (ITO) on a flexible polymer sheet for achieving static (upto 0.25 kPa-1 sensitivity) and dynamic (2.28 kPa-1 sensitivity) tactile sensing. These passive tactile sensors were interfaced in extended gate mode with flexible high-performance metal oxide semiconductor field effect transistors (MOSFETs) fabricated through a scalable process. The developed process enabled wafer scale transfer of ultrathin chips (UTCs) of silicon with various devices (ultrathin chip resistive samples, metal oxide semiconductor (MOS) capacitors and n‐channel MOSFETs) on flexible substrates up to 4″ diameter. The devices were capable of bending upto 1.437 mm radius of curvature and exhibited surface mobility above 330 cm2/V-s, on-to-off current ratios above 4.32 decades, and a subthreshold slope above 0.98 V/decade, under various bending conditions.
While UTCs are useful for realizing high-density high-performance micro-electronics on small areas, high-performance electronics on large area flexible substrates along with low-cost fabrication techniques are also important for realizing e-skin. In this regard, two other IMNS forms are investigated in this thesis, namely, NWs and NRs. The controlled selective source/drain doping needed to obtain transistors from such structure remains a bottleneck during post transfer printing. An attractive solution to address this challenge based on junctionless FETs (JLFETs), is investigated in this thesis via technology computer-aided design (TCAD) simulation and practical fabrication. The TCAD optimization implies a current of 3.36 mA for a 15 μm channel length, 40 μm channel width with an on-to-off ratio of 4.02x 107. Similar to the NRs, NWs are also suitable for realizing high performance e-skin. NWs of various sizes, distribution and length have been fabricated using various nano-patterning methods followed by metal assisted chemical etching (MACE). Synthesis of Si NWs of diameter as low as 10 nm and of aspect ratio more than 200:1 was achieved. Apart from Si NWs, V2O5 and ZnO NWs were also explored for sensor applications. Two approaches were investigated for printing NWs on flexible substrates namely (i) contact printing and (ii) large-area dielectrophoresis (DEP) assisted transfer printing. Both approaches were used to realize electronic layers with high NW density. The former approach resulted in 7 NWs/μm for bottom-up ZnO and 3 NWs/μm for top-down Si NWs while the latter approach resulted in 7 NWs/μm with simultaneous assembly on 30x30 electrode patterns in a 3 cm x 3 cm area. The contact-printing system was used to fabricate ZnO and Si NW-based ultraviolet (UV) photodetectors (PDs) with a Wheatstone bridge (WB) configuration. The assembled V2O5 NWs were used to realize temperature sensors with sensitivity of 0.03% /K. The sensor arrays are suitable for tactile e-skin application.
While the above focuses on realizing conventional sensing and addressing elements for e-skin, processing of a large amount of data from e-skin has remained a challenge, especially in the case of large area skin. A Neural NW Field Effect Transistors (υ-NWFETs) based hardware-implementable neural network (HNN) approach for tactile data processing in e-skin is presented in the final part of this thesis. The concept is evaluated by interfacing with a fabricated kirigami-inspired e-skin.
Apart from e-skin for prosthetics and robotics, the presented research will also be useful for obtaining high performance flexible circuits needed in many futuristic flexible electronics applications such as smart surgical tools, biosensors, implantable electronics/electroceuticals and flexible mobile phones.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Electronic skin, prosthesis, robotics, flexible electronics, inorganic semiconductors, microelectronics, nanoelectronics, transfer printing, nanowires, nanoribbons, ultrathin chips, MOSFET.
Subjects: T Technology > TK Electrical engineering. Electronics Nuclear engineering
Colleges/Schools: College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering
Supervisor's Name: Dahiya, Professor Ravinder and Gregory, Professor Duncan
Date of Award: 2019
Depositing User: Dr. William Ringal Taube Navaraj
Unique ID: glathesis:2019-40973
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 21 Mar 2019 13:43
Last Modified: 05 Mar 2020 21:38
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.40973

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