Combustion Synthesis and Polymer Doping of Metal Oxides for High-Performance Electronic Circuitry

Binghao Wang, Wei Huang, Michael J. Bedzyk, Vinayak P. Dravid, Yan Yan Hu, Tobin J. Marks*, Antonio Facchetti

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


ConspectusTransparent conducting oxides (TCOs) are inorganic electrical conductors with optical band gaps greater than 3.3 eV. TCOs have been extensively explored in functional windows, touch screen applications, transparent displays, solar cells, and even electronic circuits. Amorphous metal oxide (a-MO) semiconductors are a TCO class that has made impressive progress since the first 2004 demonstration of their utility as the semiconducting layer in thin-film transistors (TFTs). Their excellent counterintuitive electron mobilities in the amorphous state fill the performance gap between amorphous silicon and polysilicon, widening TFT applicability to high-value products such as high-resolution flat panel displays and emerging flexible/wearable electronics. The possibility of solution processing MO “inks” from air-stable precursors, via roll-to-roll and high-throughput printing, further expands their appeal. However, most MO TFTs fabricated using solution-processing require postdeposition film annealing at elevated temperatures (>400 °C) to ensure high-quality films and stable charge transport. Thus, MO fabrication on and TFT integration with inexpensive and typically temperature-sensitive flexible polymer substrates remains challenging, as does reducing MO processing times to those acceptable for high-throughput semiconductor circuit manufacture. Consequently, new MO film processing methodologies are being developed to meet these requirements. Among them, science-based combustion synthesis (CS) and polymer doping are promising complementary approaches to optimize materials quality and manufacturing efficiency; they are the topic of this Account.This Account summarizes the progress in CS and MO polymer doping research, made largely at Northwestern University over the past decade, to create high-performance MO TFTs. Regarding CS, we begin with an overview of combustion precursor chemistry that strongly affects the resulting film quality and device performance. Then, single fuel and dual fuel combustion syntheses for diverse MO systems are discussed. Representative examples highlight recent advances, with a focus on the relationship between (co)fuel-oxidizer types/amounts, thermal behavior, film microstructure, and TFT performance. Next, the discussion focuses on polymer doping of several MO matrices as a new approach to achieve semiconducting MO compositions with excellent performance and mechanical flexibility. Thus, the effect of the polymer architecture and content in the MO precursor formulations on the MO film composition, microstructure, electronic structure, and charge transport are discussed. The concluding remarks highlight challenges and emerging opportunities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)429-441
Number of pages13
JournalAccounts of chemical research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)


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