The world’s first electrical wooden transistor has finally been invented

Researchers at Linköping University and the KTH Royal Institute of Technology have engineered the world’s first wooden electrical transistor achieving a major breakthrough in the industry in terms of efficiency and sustainability.

This is according to a press release by the institutions published on Thursday.

“We’ve come up with an unprecedented principle. Yes, the wood transistor is slow and bulky, but it does work, and has huge development potential,” said Isak Engquist, senior associate professor at the Laboratory for Organic Electronics at Linköping University.

This isn’t the first time scientists have attempted to produce wooden transistors but previous trials resulted in versions that could regulate ion transport only. Making matters worse was the fact that when the ions ran out, the transistor stopped functioning.

The new transistor, on the other hand, can function continuously and regulate electricity flow without deteriorating. This is partially due to the balsa wood used to create the new device, as the technology involved requires a grainless wood that is evenly structured throughout.

The researchers made several changes to the wood: they removed 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.

Switching the power on and off

These changes led to a wood transistor that is able to regulate electric current and provide continuous function at a selected output level. Better yet, it could even switch the power on and off with an almost insignificant delay.

Switching it off takes about a second while turning it on takes about five seconds.

The final transistor channel is quite large but the researchers stated that this is a benefit as it could potentially tolerate a higher current than regular organic transistors, which could be important for certain future applications. 

“We didn’t create the wood transistor with any specific application in mind. We did it because we could. This is basic research, showing that it’s possible, and we hope it will inspire further research that can lead to applications in the future,” concluded Isak Engquist in the statement.

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