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  • Robert H. Reuss, Darrel G. Hopper and Jae-Geun Park


As revolutionary as microelectronics has been as a technology, there are functions that it does not address. Microelectronics focuses on ever-smaller integrated circuits (ICs) in ever-fewer square millimeters of space to increase clock speeds and decrease the power required for computer processing functions. However, applications requiring control, communications, computing, and sensing over a large area are difficult or costprohibitive to achieve because of the material incompatibilities of traditional ICs with structures, materials, and manufacturing technology. Macroelectronics addresses these applications with the aim of providing active control circuitry in situ over areas of many square meters for displays, solar panels, x-ray imagers, surface measurements, structural shape control, vehicle health monitoring, and other large-system applications. The materials challenges of macroelectronics integrated circuits (MEICs) reviewed in this issue include lightweight flexible substrates, thin-film transistors (TFTs) with IC or near-IC performance, modeling, and manufacturing technology. Compatible component materials, flexible substrates, processing conditions, host system composition, and functionality provide grand challenges that are just beginning to be addressed by researchers.

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1International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors, 2005 Ed., (accessed May 2006).
2Report of the Department of Defense Advisory Group on Electron Devices Special Technology Area Review on Displays (Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics, Washington, DC, June 2004). Available to the public from the National Technical Information Service, Springfield, VA.
3Pellegrino, J.M., Wood, G.L., Morton, D.C., and Forsythe, E.W., in Proc. SPIE 5080 (SPIE, Bellingham, WA, 2003) p.1.
4Weimer, P.K., in Proc. IRE 50 (1962) p. 1462. Working at the RCALaboratories (now Sarnoff Corp.), Weimer fabricated integrated thin-film circuits incorporating passive elements and hundreds of thin-film transistors (TFTs) operating in enhancement, with the first semiconductor films for TFTs being CdS. with n- and p-type TFTs led him to the invention of the low-power complementary invertor and the flip-flop circuit, both now widely used in CMOS silicon memories. Although the TFT approach to integrated circuits was displaced by x-Si for most applications, the advantage of the TFT for large-area circuits was apparent. Also, Weimer thought it fun to challenge the silicon establishment with an alternative approach.
5Brotherton, S.D., Glasse, C., Glaister, C., Green, P., Rohlfing, F., and Ayres, J.R., Appl. Phys. Lett. 84 (2) (2004) p. 293. Working at the Philips Research Laboratories in the United Kingdom, Brotherton etal. have focused on increasing circuit integration in active-matrix liquid-crystal displays (AMLCDs) with the ultimate goal of system-on-panel displays. Achievement of this goal requires the replacement of metal oxide silicon field-effect transistor (MOSFET) circuits with poly-Si thin-film transistor (TFT) circuits. The key difference between MOSFETs and TFTs is the channel length: production MOSFET channels are submicrometer in size, while TFT channels are 4–6μm. Brotherton et al. demon demonstrated 0.5-ν channel-length TFTs with a 20-nm-thick gate oxide with high mobilities (νp = 60 cm2/V s,νn =80 cm2/V s) and with gigahertz potential (~0.1 ns delay/stage at 3 V supply for a 15-stage compleméntary-pair MOSFET ring oscillator).
6J. Wager's group at Oregon State University and Hewlett Packard in Corvallis, Oregon, have begun to investigate amorphous multicomponent heavy-metal cation (a-MHMC) oxides for transparent thin-film transistor (TTFT) applications. Initial results are reported in Dehuff et al., J. Appl. Phys. 97 064505 (2005) and Chaing et al., Appl. Phys. Lett. 86 013503 (2005). For example, 85% transmission of visible light was obtained for zinc indium oxide (ZIO) TTFTs made at 300°C having a mobility ν of 10–30 cm2/V s and an on/off ratio of 106.
7Hosono, H., Yasukawa, M., and Kawazoe, H., J. Non-Cryst. Solids 203 (1996) p. 334.
8Kane, M.G., Goodman, L., Firester, A.H., Wilt, P.C. van der, Limanov, A.B., and Im, J.S., in IEEE Tech. Dig. Int. Electron Dev. Meet. (IEEE, Piscataway, NJ, 2005) p. 1087.



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