Visualizing and Quantifying Charge Distributions Correlated to Threshold Voltage Shifts in Lateral Organic Transistors

Lateral organic field-effect transistors (OFETs), consisting of a polystyrene (PS) polymer gate material and a pentacene organic semiconductor (OSC), were electrically polarized from bias stress during operation or in a separate charging step, and investigated with scanning Kelvin probe microscopy (SKPM) and current–voltage determinations. The charge storage inside the polymer was indicated, without any alteration of the OFET, as a surface voltage with SKPM, and correlated to a threshold voltage (<i>V</i><sub>T</sub>) shift in the transistor operation. The SKPM method allows the gate material/OSC interface of the OFET to be visualized and the surface voltage variation between the two gate material interfaces to be mapped. The charge distribution for three samples was derived from the surface voltage maps using Poisson’s equation. Charge densities calculated this way agreed with those derived from the <i>V</i><sub>T</sub> shifts and the lateral gate-OSC capacitance. We also compared the behavior of two other polymers with PS: PS accepted the most static charge in its entire volume, poly(2-trifluoromethylstyrene) (F-PS) had the most stability to bias stress, and poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) showed the most leakage current and least consistent response to static charging of the three polymers. This work provides a clear demonstration that surface voltage on a working OFET gate material can be related to the quantity of static charge responsible for bias stress and nonvolatility in OFETs.