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Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin and Northwestern University have demonstrated a new method to improve the reliability and performance of transistors and circuits based on carbon nanotubes (CNT), a semiconductor material that has long been considered by scientists as one of the most promising successors to silicon for smaller, faster and cheaper electronic devices. The result appears in a new paper published in the journal Applied Physics Letters, from AIP Publishing.

In the paper, researchers examined the effect of a fluoropolymer coating called PVDF-TrFE on single-walled carbon nanotube (SWCNT) transistors and ring oscillator circuits, and demonstrated that these coatings can substantially improve the performance of single-walled carbon nanotube devices. PVDF-TrFE is also known by its long chemical name polyvinyledenedifluoride-tetrafluoroethylene.

"We attribute the improvements to the polar nature of PVDF-TrFE that mitigates the negative effect of impurities and defects on the performance of semiconductor single-walled carbon nanotubes," said Ananth Dodabalapur, a professor in the Cockrell School of Engineering at UT Austin who led the research. "The use of [PVDF-TrFE] capping layers will be greatly beneficial to the adoption of single-walled carbon nanotube circuits in printed electronics and flexible display applications."

The work was done in collaboration between Dodabalapur's group at UT Austin and Mark Hersam's group at Northwestern University as part of a Multi-University Research Initiative (MURI) supported by the Office of Naval Research.

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