A study at Shiv Nadar University, Delhi-NCR’s Department of Physics has led to the development of organic field-effect transistors (OFETs) that could be a game-changer in bio-compatible technology, proving to be a shot in the arm for sustainable agriculture. The OFET-based biosensors could be used to measure the levels of pesticides, herbicides, and heavy metals in the soil and groundwater, and also for early detection of plant diseases.
The research has received a grant of INR 70 lakhs by ICAR – National Agricultural Science Fund as well as Fund for Improvement of Science & Technology (FIST), Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India. The team of researchers from Shiv Nadar University’s Department of Physics includes Dr. Samarendra Pratap Singh, an Associate Professor, who led the study, along with Dr. Sajal Kumar Ghosh, Associate Professor, and Mr. Yogesh Yadav, a Ph.D. student at the University.
The research has reported the achievement of a significantly high charge carrier mobility (up to 20 cm2/Vs) for any organic semiconductor thin film through the use of biocompatible salts as the gate dielectrics, which could make these devices significantly more cost-effective as well as environment friendly. The printed, organic electronics-based biosensors may offer enhanced detection performance with advantages such as light-weight, portability, and low cost, which could enable farmers to improve the quality and minimize the loss in their farm produce.
Dr. Samarendra Pratap Singh said: “We believe this is an important breakthrough as the development of indigenous technology will give biosensor technology the much-required edge. These OFETs exhibit a significantly high charge carrier mobility in a polymer semiconductor, and the solution-based fabrication method under ambient conditions makes these devices an ideal testbed for developing low-cost and environment-friendly sensors for biological and agricultural specimens.”
Organic electronics is one of the rapidly emerging fields, which drives many innovative applications impacting several areas ranging from neuromorphic, energy-harvesting, and storage devices to wearable electronics and biosensors. Field-effect transistors form the core of all modern electronics. OFETs use organic semiconductors as the active material for device operation. Being lightweight, biocompatible, and printable makes organic semiconductors suitable for a range of products including flexible smart cards, bio-compatible devices, energy harvesting, biosensors, OLED, solar cells and more.
Dr. Rupamanjari Ghosh, Vice-Chancellor, Shiv Nadar University, Delhi-NCR, said: “Agriculture is the mainstay of India’s economy, and the sector employs nearly half of the country’s population. And yet, its contribution to the country’s GDP is less than 20%. To make the sector more resilient and sustainable is a common goal of research institutions, government, and industry. This technological breakthrough at Shiv Nadar University, Delhi-NCR, can help scientists enable better, more creative, and sustainable agri-tech applications to address the problems that farmers in our country face with innovative solutions. This also creates an excellent opportunity for multiple stakeholders across the agriculture value chain to initiate dialogue and work towards addressing critical problems in a collaborative manner.”
With 58% of the population dependent on agriculture, India is a largely agrarian economy, and the growth potential of agri-tech is immense in the country. The agri-tech market is estimated to reach USD 24.1 billion by 2025 as per industry estimates.
The research at Shiv Nadar University, Delhi-NCR, has been published in ACS Applied Electronic Materials, an international journal for Science and Technology for Materials published by the American Chemical Society (ACS), USA.