Organic and Biological Electronics

course ID





14 Weeks

Semester DD


Course details

Organic and hybrid optoelectronic technology is based on new semiconductor materials based on carbon compounds such as organic small molecules or polymers or on organic/inorganic hybrids (e.g. perovskites). These materials can be chemically synthesized to tailor a variety of their semiconducting properties making them appealing for applications that require luminescence (LEDs), transport and charge mobility (transistors), the absorption of light (photovoltaic cells), and the modulation of such properties due to external stimuli (eg, photodetectors, gas and pressure sensors). In addition, these materials are mechanically flexible and have also the intrinsic ability to be deposited over large areas on both rigid and flexible substrates by simple evaporation (e.g. for small molecules) or by printing techniques (e.g. for polymers soluble in organic solvents) including ink jet or screen printing. This is why this field is also referred to as plastic or printed electronics.

After an introduction on organic chemistry and on the quantum description of molecules and organic compounds and their optical transitions (absorption, fluorescence and phosphorescence) (16% of the CFUs of the course), the course will expound the operation of organic and hybrid semiconductor optoelectronic devices, in particular Organic (or Polymer) Light Emitting Diodes (OLEDs, PLEDs) (25% of the CFUs of the course together with displays), Organic Thin Film Transistors (OTFTs) (9% of the CFUs of the course together with E-paper), Organic Solar Cells (OSCs), and Perovskite Solar Cells (PSCs) (12.5% of the CFUs of the course). We will then study the design and the manufacturing techniques utilized in developing the applications based on these devices and how these applications operate. The course will illustrate Flat Panel OLED Displays (having substantial market today as screens of mobile phones and televisions), electronic paper (E-Paper - trough the Plastic Logic Ltd case study), and photovoltaic modules.

Part of the course will focus on the optoelectronic devices and systems for gene expression detection and sequencing (12.5% of the CFUs of the course). After a brief introduction on the basic concepts of molecular biology, the course then will show how gene chip arrays are designed, constructed and utilized using photolithographic (through the Affymetrix case study) or ink jet printing techniques. A case study on cystic fibrosis will illustrate an example of the utilization and importance of these chips.

Part of the course will be devoted to experiments in the laboratory where the student will attend practical demonstrations and learn methods for the fabrication of new generation solar cells and their characterization under a solar simulator to extract the fundamental parameters (eg, conversion efficiency) or under monochromatic light to study the external quantum efficiency (EQE). Therefore an important part of the course (25% of the CFUs of the course) will be dedicated to the research and in-depth study of a new topics chosen each time (including lessons on bibliographic research, how to give presentations etc), to then complete a presentation by the students on a subject matter of their choice.



The main aim of the course in Organic and Biological Electronics is to provide students with the fundamentals of optoelectronic devices, the science, the materials and technologies based on organic and hybrid semiconductors. In addition, the course will introduce some of the optoelectronic technologies used in bioengineering for genetic detection and sequencing.
Organic and hybrid (also known as "printed" or "plastic") electronics is experiencing major international development efforts and has been identified by the European Community as very important field to invest in because Europe is already at the forefront in this field. Some applications are already massively on the market (such as OLEDs in mobile phone displays) and others starting in niche markets and/or still under development in various industrial pilot or manufacturing lines in Europe (E-Paper, solar cells). The part of the course covering optoelectronic devices for the detection of genes also represents a strongly expanding field with many future developments (e.g. the hardware for bio-informatics). This course will give students the tools required to understand how the devices work and how the applications are designed and operate in both of these two sectors that are experiencing strong growth worldwide.

The course aims to provide students with a broad knowledge of topics in the field of organic and biological electronics, also enriched by practical laboratory experiences. In preparing the short dissertation in the form of a presentation, they will acquire the ability to develop in-depth investigation and advanced knowledge that relate to the state of the art in research and industrial applications in this field.

The axis on which the program is developed is as follows: science, materials, technologies, devices, applications. The student's true understanding occurs when he or she manages to put together and find the relationships between all aspects to arrive at grasping the design and operation of the final application. The case studies proposed during the course, in particular focused on applications, together with practical experiences and in-depth analysis on a chosen topic, will help to create links between the various parts so that the students can not only understand the design exposed in class but imagine and design new ones according to the needs or assessments of new technical requirements that they may encounter.

The study and the final presentation of a small dissertation in a work groups of students will help students to identify independently the scientific and applicative context of the chosen topic, to be able to choose the most relevant and important research and state of the art paths. It will also help them to find and critically use the results of scientific literature to assess which features and qualities are the most suitable for their exposure and also which technologies, materials and electronic applications are more technologically and industrially of current and future interest.

Students are asked not only to critically respond to the questions during the oral exam but to prepare a small dissertation, in the form of a presentation, of a topic to be explored in a work group composed of several students. As the course is attended by students coming from two (or more) degree courses, they are advised to form a working group with different scientific backgrounds (e.g. electronic engineering and materials science and technology) and to prepare the presentation in English if possible in order to potentially extend communication to an international audience.

The combination of lectures, laboratory experiences, and the preparation of a presentation to delve in a particular topic are indicated to promote the mind of the student of this course to be flexible and to the rapid learning of new concepts and methods, both theoretical and experimental, even in small study groups.