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Published: 15 May 2019

Undergraduate and sixth-form students’ research published in leading journal

Eva Bestelink, who recently graduated from Surrey’s BEng in Electronic Engineering with Nanotechnology, and SATRO summer placement student Thoran Landers, have contributed to research which could help to enable more energy-efficient power solutions for next generation wearable electronics.

Printed flexible electronics

The research, which was published in Applied Physics Letters on 8 May, was a collaboration between the students and their supervisor Dr Radu Sporea, Lecturer in Semiconductor Devices at Surrey’s Advanced Technology Institute (ATI). Thoran, a sixth form student at Charterhouse School, took part in the project as part of the SATRO research placement scheme which Dr Sporea has been hosting at Surrey since 2013, while Eva’s participation is an excellent example of Surrey’s Student-Staff Partnerships programme.  

The work aimed to explain the behaviour of electronic components currently used in display screens. Under certain circumstances these components (the transistors) are unable to turn off which makes them unusable for power management circuits required by next generation electronics (such as wearables and flexible or printed electronics). The research demonstrated that if the transistor has a structure which includes a potential barrier (which would generally be detrimental to performance in conventional applications), it is able to turn off significantly better, and can therefore be used in these new power management applications.

The students used computer simulations not only to validate measurements but also to explain the internal process through which the devices are able to turn off.

Lead author Eva, who is now studying for a PhD in the ATI, said: “This research shows that source-gated transistors may be particularly suited to situations where conventional solutions are not viable such as next generation wearable, wafer-thin electronics.

“Having begun this degree not knowing what a transistor was, I have now contributed to understanding the physics behind their operation, and that is down to the amazing support and opportunities I’ve been given at Surrey which have been far beyond what I would have expected.”

Thoran Landers said: “The project gave me an opportunity to explore a field I had no previous knowledge about but was fascinated by. The fact that data I collected helped Dr Sporea to write a paper is something that astounds me; knowing that I’ve been able to contribute to improving the components used in mainstream electronic devices has made this an unforgettable experience.”

Dr Sporea commented: “I am delighted with the continued success of our partnership with SATRO, bringing together the resources available around the University and the local community and producing relevant scientific advances. This research not only proves the versatility of the source-gated transistor, an unconventional device which is rapidly gaining traction in the community, but also the dedication of our undergraduate students.

The research paper, ‘Turn-off mechanisms in thin-film source-gated transistors with applications to power devices and rectification’ is published in Applied Physics Letters.

 

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