Organic standards

The US IEEE Standards Association has formed a working group whose goal is to formulate a standard for evaluating organic transistors.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Standards Association (IEEE-SA) has formed a working group whose goal is to formulate a standard for evaluating organic transistors, or organic field effect transistors (OFET), which promise to deliver economical circuitry for high-volume applications not viable in silicon.

The new standard, IEEE P1620, ‘Standard Test Methods for the Characterisation of Organic and Molecular Transistors and Materials’ will create a framework for confirming data and reporting results no matter how the transistors are made.

The first meeting of the new working group, which will occur on September 18 at the IEEE’s offices in Piscataway, NJ, is open to anyone interested in helping to develop the new standard.

The final standard will reflect the consensus of all parties involved and is expected to take 18 to 24 months to complete.

‘Organic transistors are at a critical juncture,’ says Daniel Gamota, Chair of the IEEE P1620 Working Group and Department Manager of Organic and Molecular Electronics at Motorola Labs. ‘Global research efforts have brought OFETs to the point where applications and manufacturing infrastructure for them are beginning to emerge.’

OFET devices promise to be much easier to produce than silicon-based field effect transistors. One method envisions simply dissolving polymers in solvents and printing them on fabric, paper, plastic and other substrates. This would build transistors costing just pennies apiece and avoid the complex high-temperature, vacuum, lithographic and other steps needed with silicon.

‘As OFETs move from research to commercialisation,’ says Gamota, ‘everyone from material and equipment suppliers to circuit designers and product and subsystem manufacturers must use comparable tests so data at one level can easily inform all others. Without this, the technology will have a harder time getting off the ground. As a result, we’re crafting this testing standard early in the OFET life cycle so everyone involved can work together without impediment.’

The IEEE P1620 Working Group has generated great interest, reports Paul W. Brazis, Jr., the group’s Vice Chair and a senior electrical engineer at Motorola Labs. ‘We see the potential for more than a hundred OFET scientists and technologists from academia and the corporate world to join the group,’ he says. ‘They would come from many fields, including semiconductors, microelectronic assembly, printing, retailing and packaging.’

‘As a first step, we plan to circulate a white paper on the OFET measurement procedures in place at Motorola Labs and the University of Michigan. The paper defines terms and discusses test parameters, methods, equipment and conditions, among other topics. The comments we get back will help set the direction and content for the full testing standard.’

The IEEE P1620 standard is sponsored by the Microprocessor Group of the IEEE Computer Society. It is likely to be the first in a family of organic transistor standards that may encompass such areas as reliability, in-line testing, test equipment and how to transfer research results to designers and others. Much of the work done on organic transistors should apply to the nascent field of molecular electronics, so P1620 subgroups are also expected to form to create standards for this field as it evolves.