Researchers from Sweden have developed the world’s first transistor made of wood

A group of researchers from Sweden is responsible for the creation of the first transistor made of wood

Researchers in Sweden have developed the world’s first transistor made of wood, featured in the PNAS magazine, which paves the way for the regulation of electronic plants.

Transistors, invented almost a hundred years ago, are considered by some to be as important an invention for humanity as the telephone, the light bulb, or the bicycle. Today, they are a crucial component in modern electronic devices and are manufactured at the nanoscale. A transistor regulates the current through it and can also function as a power switch.

“We have devised an unprecedented principle. Yes, the wooden transistor is slow and bulky, but it works and has great potential for development,” says Isak Engquist, a senior associate professor in the Organic Electronics Laboratory at the University of Linkoping.

In previous trials, transistors made of wood have only been able to regulate ion transport. And when the ions run out, the transistor stops working. The transistor developed by the Linköping researchers, however, can operate continuously and regulate the flow of electricity without deteriorating.

The researchers used balsa wood to create their transistor, as the technology involved requires a grain-free wood that is evenly structured throughout. They stripped away the lignin, leaving only long cellulose fibers with channels where the lignin had been.

These channels were then filled with a conductive plastic or polymer, called PEDOT:PSS, resulting in an electrically conductive wood material.

The researchers used this to build the wooden transistor and were able to show that it is capable of regulating electrical current and providing continuous function at a selected output level. It could also turn the power on and off, albeit with some delay: turning it off took about a second; and turning it on, about five seconds.

Possible applications could include electronic plant regulation, which is another strong research area at Linköping University. One advantage of the transistor’s channel being so large is that it could potentially tolerate higher current than normal organic transistors, which could be important for certain future applications.

But Isak Engquist wants to emphasize something: “We did not create the wooden transistor with any specific application in mind. We did it because we could. This is basic research that shows it is possible, and we hope it will inspire further research that may lead to applications in the future.”

Source: dpa

Referential image source: Thor Balkhed, Europa Press / dpa)

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