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Manchester display disruptor Smartkem signs Chinese development partnership

Smartkem, a company seeking to reshape the world of electronics with its disruptive organic thin-film transistors (OTFTs) that have the potential to drive the next generation of displays, has announced a joint development agreement with Shanghai Tianma Microelectronics Co.

The partnership will see the pair integrate Smartkem’s Organic Thin-Film Transistor (OTFT) technology with Tianma’s oxide transistors to develop OTFT-based microarray biochips.

Devices made using the combination of complementary transistor polarities (CMOS) will include logic gates, both analog and digital, and these will be used to amplify and process signals generated by TFT-based sensor devices.

Smartkem chairman and chief executive officer Ian Jenks said: “This project is expected to demonstrate that Smartkem’s unique technology can be used successfully to develop a new type of biochip using our OTFTs and Tianma’s backplane. If successful, this collaboration could create another important market for our technology.”

Whilst CMOS devices using oxide and OTFT have been trialled before with promising results published in scientific journals, this will be the first time that Smartkem’s OTFTs will be combined with oxide transistors in a commercial setting.

The high-charge mobility organic transistors of Smartkem at short transistor channel lengths, which represents its ability to drive current, is intended to surpass the performance of previous test results of the OTFT/oxide combination. If successful, the company believes that the integration of OTFT on oxide will open the possibility of large area, high noise margin, low power logic devices for a range of sensor and internet of things (IOT) applications that do not require high frequency operation of CMOS silicon devices.

The project involves collaborative work with Prof Xiaojun Guo’s group at Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU), which will be responsible for device architecture, process-to-design methodologies, and sensor integration.

SmartKem and SJTU recently published a joint paper in Nature Communications on their work to integrate OTFT with III-V semiconductor micro-LED wafers for high brightness displays.

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