High-performance nanowire electronics and photonics and nanoscale patterning on flexible plastic substrates

Michael C. Mcalpine, Robin S. Friedman, Charles M. Lieber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

126 Scopus citations


The introduction of an ambient-temperature route for integrating high-mobility semiconductors on flexible substrates could enable the development of novel electronic and photonic devices with the potential to impact a broad spectrum of applications. Here we review our recent studies demonstrating that high-quality single-crystal nanowires (NWs) can be assembled onto flexible plastic substrates under ambient conditions to create FETs and light-emitting diodes. We also show that polymer substrates can be patterned through the use of a room temperature nanoimprint lithography technique for the general fabrication of hundred-nanometer scale features, which can be hierarchically patterned to the millimeter scale and integrated with semiconductor NWs to make high-performance FETs. The key to our approach is the separation of the high-temperature synthesis of single-crystal NWs from room temperature solution-based assembly, thus enabling fabrication of single-crystal devices on virtually any substrate. Silicon NW FETs on plastic substrates display mobilities of 200 cm2-V-1-s-1, rivaling those of single-crystal silicon and exceeding those of state-of-the-art amorphous silicon and organic transistors currently used for flexible electronics. Furthermore, the generality of this bottom-up assembly approach suggests the integration of diverse nanoscale building blocks on a variety of substrates, potentially enabling far-reaching advances in lightweight display, mobile computing, and information storage applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1357-1363
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the IEEE
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Manuscript received July 31, 2004; revised March 22, 2005. This work was supported in part by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency under Award N-00014-01-1-0651 and in part by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research under Award F49620-03-1-0063. The work of M. C. McAlpine was supported by the National Science Foundation under a predoctoral fellowship.


  • Flexible electronics
  • Light-emitting diodes
  • Nanoimprint lithography (NIL)
  • Nanoscale patterning
  • Nanowire (NW) transistors
  • Plastic substrates
  • Silicon nanowires (NWs)


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