Columbia University

Technology Ventures

Low-power OFET using a thin-film terapolymer as gate dielectric and actuator

Technology #m11-075

Organic field effect transistors (OFETs) have recently been developed as part of the movement towards organic electronics, which carry great potential for use in sensors and flexible electronics. However, most OFET designs still utilize silicon-based materials for the gate dielectric, resulting in large leak currents and inefficient power usage. Furthermore, construction of OFETs can become more complicated for applications involving sensing and actuation, as multiple thin film depositions are required. This technology is an OFET design utilizing an electrostrictive terapolymer as both the gate dielectric and as an actuator. Integration of the actuator and gate dielectric into a single thin film layer provides for a thinner geometry and simplified, silicon-free fabrication compared to conventional OFET actuators. This technology has enormous potential for use as a primary circuit element for thin film robotics, touch sensors, and artificial muscles.

Integrated actuator allows for thinner geometry and simplified fabrication

The terapolymer material comprising the gate dielectric possesses a high dielectric constant, decreasing the amount of leakage current during operation. Thus, this technology is able to operate at low voltages due to efficient power consumption provided by the terapolymer. Like all OFET technologies, the use of an organic semiconductor allows for superior scalability as well as the ability to be printed on flexible substrates. While traditional OFET actuators require separate layers for the actuator and the gate dielectric, the terapolymer used for the gate dielectric in this technology can also be used as an actuator, providing for thinner geometries and less complex fabrication. The simplified production process, along with the elimination of expensive silicon components, ultimately reduces manufacturing costs, as well.

This technology is of particular importance to technologies involving integrated actuators or sensors, including thin film robotics. A 3-segment robotic arm controlled by this technology is currently in development, allowing for robotic walking/swimming motions in multiple directions.

Lead Inventor:

John Kymissis, Ph.D.


  • Thin, low-power OFET design
  • Sensors/actuators on flexible substrates
  • Thin film robotics
  • Artificial muscles
  • Thin film displays
  • Touch sensors


  • Thin geometry
  • Low power consumption
  • Integration of actuator and gate dielectric
  • Can be printed on flexible substrates
  • Simplified and flexible fabrication process
  • Silicon-free materials

Patent Information:

Patent Pending (US 20140239274)

Tech Ventures Reference: IR M11-075

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