At the International Solid-State Circuits Conference this week, European researches unveiled the world’s first flexible microprocessor made with organic semiconductors. Although the processing power is equivalent to a 1970’s era silicon model, the advantage of this development is that it can bend. This could lead the way towards cheaper flexible displays and sensors used for clothing, construction, or food and pharmaceutical labeling.
Scientists have not been able to achieve an organic microprocessor till now because of how difficult it is to make organic transistors all have a consistent switch-on threshold. The Belgian research team behind the successful organic chip had to build an extra gate for controlling the electric field in the semiconductor to avoid accidental switching.
The featured organic chip contains 4000 transistors compared to the hundreds of millions found in today’s silicon chips. Some scientists believe that organic chips will never achieve much on its own, but rather will remain the “dim-witted sidekick” for silicon processors. An example of this would be when shopping for a pair of pants, you could use your smartphone to communicate directly with the organic chip inside the garment. The data communicated could let you virtually try on the pants by telling you whether or not it would fit your entered measurements.