Biotronics is the development and implementation of a new class of polymers that possess unique optical, electromagnetic and self-assembly properties that no other known polymer has. To date, they have demonstrated significant improvements in electronic and optoelectronic device performance. These non-fossil fuel-based biopolymer materials, derived from deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), silk and nucleobases are abundant, inexpensive and green materials that will not deplete our natural resources or harm the environment. They have shown the potential to enhance, or maybe someday even replace, fossil fuel-based polymers for applications ranging from eyeglasses to the higher technology applications, such as light emitting diodes, thin film transistors, capacitors, electro-optic modulators and solar cells. Preliminary in-house research in this area started around 2000 and since then, low optical losses of < 0.5dB/cm over a broad wavelength have been achieved, electrical resistivities 3-5 orders of magnitude lower than other polymer materials with the same optical loss have also been achieved and they are tunable. Their microwave losses are also low, making them very attractive for high speed electro-optic devices. Used as cladding layers in nonlinear (NLO) polymer-based electro-optic (EO) modulators, a 2X increase in nonlinearity, as well as a 3X reduction in the overall optical insertion loss of these devices has been achieved. These biopolymers have also been used as electron-blocking layers (EBLs) for organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs), demonstrating a > 3X increase in efficiency, for capacitors, demonstrating a 2X increase in dielectric breakdown and 3X increase in energy density, and NLO polymer EO modulators, demonstrating a 40% increase in nonlinearity and device yield, compared to devices without an EBL. Using biopolymer as gate dielectrics for both organic field effect transistor (OFETs) and graphene FETs, an order of magnitude lower gate voltage was achieved compared with devices using other polymer gate dielectrics. 100X increases in photoluminescence have been observed using biopolymer hosts, as well as brighter, whiter, longer lifetime solid state LEDs. These enhancements suggest significantly increased device efficiencies, higher outputs, lower operating powers and longer lifetimes. This new Biotronics technology shows great promise for a number of photonic and electronic applications, with demonstrated increase in device performance. This opens up a whole new field for bioengineering, in addition to the current genomic sequencing and clinical diagnosis and treatment applications. Where silicon is today’s fundamental building block for inorganic electronics and photonics, biopolymers hold promise to become tomorrow’s fundamental building block for organic photonics and electronics.
Dr. James G. Grote is a Principal Electronics Research Engineer with the Air Force Research Laboratory, Materials and Manufacturing Directorate at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, where he conducts research in polymer and biopolymer based opto-electronics. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of Dayton, University of Cincinnati and Wright State University, teaching courses and directing research. Dr. Grote received his BS degree in Electrical Engineering for Ohio University and both his MS and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of Dayton, with partial study at the University of California, San Diego. He was a visiting scholar at the Institut d’Optique, Universite de Paris, Sud in the summer of 1995 and a visiting scholar at the University of Southern California, the University of California in Los Angeles and the University of Washington in 2001. He received Doctor Honoris Causa from the Politehnica University of Bucharest in 2010. Dr. Grote is an Air Force Research Laboratory Fellow, a Fellow of the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE), a Fellow of the Optical Society of America (OSA), a Fellow of the European Optical Society (EOS) and a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). In 2014 he was inducted into the Ohio Universities Fritz. J. and Delores H. Russ, College of Engineering and Technology's Academy of Distinguished Graduates. He has co-authored over 200 journal and conference papers, plus two books, seven book chapters and six patents with five additional pending. He has also served as editor for more than 25 conference proceedings and journal publications. Dr. Grote has presented over 120 papers and seminars, many of which have been keynote or invited. Dr. Grote has served as Chair for numerous international symposiums and conferences.