PerspectiveMaterials Science

Rectifying ionic current with ionoelastomers

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Science  14 Feb 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6479, pp. 735-736
DOI: 10.1126/science.aba6270

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Summary

The formation of junctions between p- and n-type semiconductors is the elementary building block of solid-state electronics. The unidirectional transportation of electrons across the junction interface, known as rectification, is the functional basis of electronic diodes, transistors, and integrated logic circuits. By contrast, biological systems use ions as signal carriers for sensing, signal transduction, and information processing. For example, ion-selective proteins embedded in the neuronal membrane transport sodium and potassium ions asymmetrically to propagate nerve impulses (1). Although the pursuit of dimensional shrinkage in modern electronics is reaching its physical limitation, the development of an ionic analogy to p-n junctions is expected to bring about unconventional circuits that simulate the nervous system (2) and has the potential to deliver intrinsically deformable processing units. On page 773 of this issue, Kim et al. (3) report the fabrication of ionic diodes and transistors using solvent-free ionoelastomers, thereby establishing a basis for stretchable ionotronic devices.

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