Xerox on Friday announced advances in the quest to develop plastic semiconductors and flexible computer and TV displays.
The company said it has developed semiconductive ink that can be used to print the semiconductor channels of transistors at low temperatures and in the open air, a prerequisite for cheaper assembly.

In addition, Xerox researchers have developed materials for printing the conductor and the dielectric components. All three components necessary for a plastic circuit--semiconductor, conductor and dielectric--now can be printed using inkjet techniques and could make plastic semiconductors a reality, Xerox said.

The technology could eventually lead to inexpensive flat-panel and bendable displays and low-end microelectronics such as radio frequency identification tags.

The accomplishments stem from work that Xerox has been doing with an eye to developing semiconducting plastics that are similar to silicon but would allow for displays that are lighter, more flexible and less costly to make. Other companies, such as DuPont and Lucent Technologies, meanwhile, are looking into the use of organic light-emitting diode technology to make foldable screens.

"Having developed these three critical liquid-processable materials may make it possible to create low-cost, flexible plastic transistor circuits using common liquid deposition techniques such as spin coating, screen or stencil printing, offset or inkjet printing," Beng Ong, a Xerox fellow at the company's Canadian research center, said in a statement.

No dates were given for when products based on this or similar technologies will appear, but Ong said such products may be available commercially in the near future.

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