A low temperature amorphous oxide thin film transistor (TFT) and amorphous silicon PIN diode backplane technology for large area flexible digital x-ray detectors has been developed to create 7.9-in. diagonal backplanes. The critical steps in the evolution of the backplane process include the qualification and optimization of the low temperature (200 °C) metal oxide TFT and a-Si PIN photodiode process, the stability of the devices under forward and reverse bias stress, the transfer of the process to flexible plastic substrates, and the fabrication and assembly of the flexible detectors.
Mixed oxide semiconductor TFTs on flexible plastic substrates suffer from performance and stability issues related to the maximum processing temperature limitation of the polymer. A novel device architecture based upon a dual active layer improves both the performance and stability. Devices are directly fabricated below 200 ºC on a polyethylene naphthalate (PEN) substrate using mixed metal oxides of either zinc indium oxide (ZIO) or indium gallium zinc oxide (IGZO) as the active semiconductor. The dual active layer architecture allows for adjustment to the saturation mobility and threshold voltage stability without the requirement of high temperature annealing, which is not compatible with flexible plastic substrates like PEN. The device performance and stability is strongly dependent upon the composition of the mixed metal oxide; this dependency provides a simple route to improving the threshold voltage stability and drive performance. By switching from a single to a dual active layer, the saturation mobility increases from 1.2 cm2/V-s to 18.0 cm2/V-s, while the rate of the threshold voltage shift decreases by an order of magnitude. This approach could assist in enabling the production of devices on flexible substrates using amorphous oxide semiconductors.
Low temperature (200°C) processed amorphous silicon photodiodes were developed successfully by balancing the tradeoffs between low temperature and low stress (less than -70 MPa compressive) and device performance. Devices with a dark current of less than 1.0 pA/mm2 and a quantum efficiency of 68% have been demonstrated. Alternative processing techniques, such as pixelating the PIN diode and using organic photodiodes have also been explored for applications where extreme flexibility is desired.