Polymers (Basel). 2023 Jan 6;15(2):293. doi: 10.3390/polym15020293.
In this study, we fabricated an electric double-layer transistor (EDLT), a synaptic device, by preparing a casein biopolymer electrolyte solution using an efficient microwave-assisted synthesis to replace the conventional heating (heat stirrer) synthesis. Microwave irradiation (MWI) is more efficient in transferring energy to materials than heat stirrer, which significantly reduces the preparation time for casein electrolytes. The capacitance-frequency characteristics of metal-insulator-metal configurations applying the casein electrolyte prepared through MWI or a heat stirrer were measured. The capacitance of the MWI synthetic casein was 3.58 μF/cm2 at 1 Hz, which was higher than that of the heat stirrer (1.78 μF/cm2), confirming a stronger EDL gating effect. Electrolyte-gated EDLTs using two different casein electrolytes as gate-insulating films were fabricated. The MWI synthetic casein exhibited superior EDLT electrical characteristics compared to the heat stirrer. Meanwhile, essential synaptic functions, including excitatory post-synaptic current, paired-pulse facilitation, signal filtering, and potentiation/depression, were successfully demonstrated in both EDLTs. However, MWI synthetic casein electrolyte-gated EDLT showed higher synaptic facilitation than the heat stirrer. Furthermore, we performed an MNIST handwritten-digit-recognition task using a multilayer artificial neural network and MWI synthetic casein EDLT achieved a higher recognition rate of 91.24%. The results suggest that microwave-assisted casein solution synthesis is an effective method for realizing biocompatible neuromorphic systems.