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Scientists build gate transistors out of wood

(Image Source: PNAS)
(Image Source: PNAS)
A group of scientists from Sweden managed to build T-shaped transistors out of balsa wood treated with a water-soluble polymer. Since this design only operates in the kilohertz range and can be shrunk to a few millimeters, it is not intended as a replacement for silicon-based semiconductors in the Angstrom era.

While Moore’s law might not make too much sense for computers from the past several years, transistor miniaturization is still happening, although at a significantly lower pace. Silicon apparently cannot be used beyond 2 nm, so scientists are looking for other elements and materials that could provide stability in the Angstrom era. Most of the scientific experiments focus nowadays on cutting edge alternatives including graphene, carbon nanosheets, carbon nanotubes and cubic boron arsenide, but some scientists are also looking at more plentiful materials like plain old wood. Swedish researchers from Linköping University and the KTH Royal Institute of Technology recently managed to build a T-shaped gate transistor from balsa wood.

In order to achieve a good conductivity factor of 69 Sm-¹ along with a functional on/off switch, the Swedish scientists needed to extract most of the lignin and treat the remaining porous cellulose balsa block with a water-soluble polymer known as poly ethylenedioxythiophene polystyrene sulfonate (PEDOT:PSS). The scientists explain that this is not the first transistor made of wood by any means, but it is the first wooden transistor to function even when ions run out.

The only major downsides for this design are that the wooden transistors cannot be shrunk to mere nanometers and cannot switch on and off at GHz speeds. Instead, the smallest wooden transistors currently measure a few millimeters in size and can switch at kilohertz speeds. Clearly not the material that could replace silicon in the Angstrom era, but at least the production processes would be considerably less expensive. Wooden transistors should work well with electrochromic displays and simple logic circuits encased in wood frames, with great potential for bioelectronic and plant-based electronics.


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T-shaped balsa wood transistor (Source: Thor Balkhed)
T-shaped balsa wood transistor (Source: Thor Balkhed)
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2023 05 > Scientists build gate transistors out of wood
Bogdan Solca, 2023-05-31 (Update: 2023-05-31)