by CIO Staff

Making Science Fiction Reality: New Research Could Lead to ‘Invisible’ Electronics

Dec 27, 20062 mins
Data Center

Imagine a car windshield that displays a map to your destination, military goggles with targets and instructions displayed right before a soldier’s eyes, or a billboard that doubles as a window.

It may not be science fiction. Northwestern University researchers report that, by combining organic and inorganic materials, they have produced transparent, high-performance transistors that can be assembled inexpensively on both glass and plastics.

The results of this breakthrough, which brings such futuristic high-quality displays closer to reality, were published in the November 2006 issue of the journal Nature Materials.

Researchers have long worked on developing new types of displays powered by electronics without visible wires. But, according to a university statement, until now no one was able to develop materials for transistors that could be “invisible” while still maintaining a high level of performance.

“Our development provides new strategies for creating transparent electronics,” said Tobin J. Marks, the Vladimir N. Ipatieff research professor in chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern and professor of materials science and engineering, who led the research. “You can imagine a variety of applications for new electronics that haven’t been possible previously—imagine displays of text or images that would seem to be floating in space.”

Prototype displays using the transistors developed at Northwestern could be available in 12 to 18 months, said Marks. He has formed a startup company, Polyera, to bring this and related technologies to market.

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