O’Connor wins prestigious NSF CAREER award

Dr. Brendan O’Connor

The objective of this CAREER grant entitled Mechanical Behavior of Flexible Electronic Films is to improve the understanding of the mechanical behavior of polymer (organic) semiconductor films. Insight into the relationships between mechanical and electrical properties will provide guidelines to achieve mechanically robust flexible electronics for applications such as wearable electronics and low cost solar power. Organic semiconductors are particularly promising for flexible electronics due to their relatively compliant nature associated with their molecular structure. In practice, mechanical failure has hindered the commercial adoption of these films for flexible electronic applications. This award provides support to investigate the impact of molecular structure, film microstructure, and device design on performance variation and failure modes of devices under flexure. Research will also include the role of cyclic bending and environmental factors such as moisture on mechanical stability. Through providing a fundamental framework relating polymer semiconductor structure to mechanical and optoelectronic characteristics, this research will help realize the enormous potential of flexible electronics. This grant also provides a wonderful opportunity for students to be engaged in research that crosses multiple disciplines including mechanics of materials, materials processing and semiconductor device physics. Lastly, the education plan includes the development of a certificate program in manufacturing and mechanics of emerging thin film electronics to train future leaders in this emerging field.