Organic electronics

Dr Masrur M Nahid tells Shaikha Shuhada Panzeree about the prospects of research in the field of organic electronics

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Over the last 40 years or so, organic electronics have come a long way. According to Dr Masrur M Nahid, a Research Fellow at the North Carolina State University, USA, futuristic electronics needs to be integrated in daily life. The prospects of organic electronics exist, if there is proper research and implementation. Nahid, a former Dhaka University graduate who later went for his studies to Sweden, Australia and now in the USA, talks about the future prospects of organic electronics researches in Bangladesh.

Organic electronics, which is Nahid’s area of research interest, is a cutting edge technology that has already been implemented in the display devices, for example OLED TVs and smartphone screens. The thinness of the device and the curved screens are only possible through this exciting technology. Most importantly, the research of this environment-friendly and very low-cost technology has advanced rapidly, over the last four decades. The prototypes of organic solar cells are already creating a buzz in the marketplace.

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Thinner transistors

Thin-film processing in organic electronics has a great deal of potential. Thin-films are basically ‘solution processable’ meaning any material that can be processed into a solution. For example, chloroform, which is a regular organic solvent, can be used to make a device or a thin-film can be made out of it. The whole idea is to make the transistors better.

The challenge is first to make the materials. Mostly the chemists and synthesists make the materials. Nahid’s work was to take the materials, make the devices, see how they perform and look for ways through which these can be improved.

In one of his projects, Nahid made a transistor, which is a kind of sensor that can differentiate signals from three forms of existing xylenes. One of these is edible, another is used in petroleum products and the last was for organic processing.

Organic solar cells

Solar cells are another aspect of organic electronics. The technology also has potential in renewable energy whereby it can harvest solar energy by taking the form of a flexible and bendable substrate. It can also be produced in a roll-to-roll processing much like a newspaper. These are still prototypes, which are very cost-effective and environment friendly. Compared to silicon-based solar cells, these are bendable. Once marketed, people can use these as window curtains due to their transparent feature.

One important feature of these electronics is that these are wearable. A jacket could be a solar cell itself. These would not have any affects on health as these are made out of organic materials and are also biodegradable.

Display Devices

Use of organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology is another prospective area, according to Nahid. LG has already launched such TVs based on the technology in the market, with screens that are only 4mm wide. They conducted the research a few years back as they had funding and did not disclose the research outcomes. A few Samsung devices are beginning to have similar features now.

Prospects

On August 2, 2017, Nahid presented his research work at the University of Dhaka. After the presentation, some of the teachers showed interest in taking up the research project in Bangladesh too.

Currently, there is no ongoing research in Bangladesh in this sector. Asked whether this research can actually be carried out in Bangladesh, Nahid tells New Age Xtra, ‘I am optimistic. After the technological boom, people are connected now. Any idea can be transferred instantly. Bangladesh does not have enough facilities to carry it out on its own, so the only way is to collaborate thus making it a shared opportunity for Bangladesh also.’