Organic semiconductors have been teasing us with the possibility of computationally-inclined clothing
for years, but until now we could only dream about our pants being
the computer. That dream is closer to reality than ever, as researchers from IMEC have created a cheap (potentially 1/10th the cost of silicon chips), bendable microprocessor by layering a plastic substrate, gold circuits, organic dielectric, and a pentacene organic semiconductor to create an 8-bit logic circuit with 4000 transistors. Executing 6 instructions per second, these things won't be challenging Watson
any time soon, but the chips should prove useful in creating cheaper flexible displays
and sensors to tell us whether that week-old chicken in the fridge has gone bad. The trick was to overcome individual organic transistors' variable switching voltage thresholds -- as opposed to silicon's predictable nature -- that eliminated the possibility of organic-based logic circuits previously. But by adding a second gate to each transistor, IMEC was able to control the electrical field in each to prevent unwanted switching and usher in the dawn of plastic processors. The zenith of nerd fashion can't be far behind.