Anne Watson '12 Uncovers Buried Interfaces of Organic Thin-Film Transistors

Anne Watson ‘12 has been investigating how certain organic materials play a role in devices including solar cells and transistors. Funded by a Park Enrichment Grant this past spring, Watson has been able to examine a system of locally constructed thin-film transistors composed of all-polymer materials that are cost-effective and environmentally friendly.

Using techniques developed by fellow members of the Ade Research Group in the Department of Physics, new information has been obtained that correlates transistor device performance and the properties of the buried interface between two layers of polymers that compose a device.

Anne Watson investigates how organic materials can be incorporated into microelectronics.

Continuing her senior-year efforts to conduct research on organic materials used in electronic systems, Watson spent a week in March working at the Advanced Light Source at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. Using the specialized equipment at this internationally renowned facility, she and other members of the Ade Research Group utilized the knowledge gained from beaming soft x-rays into their samples to provide a more accurate picture of the underlying structures. Watson was then able to ascertain which of these characteristics is desirable for a high-performing device using a probe station to test working transistors.

With these positive results, Watson presented her findings so far at the NC State Undergraduate Research Symposium in April, with further plans to publish her findings in detail. Additionally, she was awarded the 2012 McCormick Award for Undergraduate Research in Physics, for which she presented a talk at the annual McCormick Symposium.

“I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to conduct research at such a premier institution as the Advanced Light Source at Berkeley National Lab,” she says. “Beyond the valuable research data obtained that I hope to publish soon, I have been allowed to grow in expertise in this field of physics, something especially useful as I head into a graduate program this fall.”

A native of Newport News, Virginia, Watson graduated in May with degrees in physics and computer science. She will begin her Ph.D. studies at Duke University this fall where she will continue her work in experimental condensed matter physics with the goal of aiding the development of alternative-energy devices.