A new technique for printable and flexible circuits comes from a team of researchers at North Carolina State University. The technique allows researchers to print circuits onto flexible and stretchable substrates with silver nanowires.
Silver nanowires have interested researchers for years. They have many potential applications, from prosthetic devices to wearables. The nanowires have significant flexibility, stretchability and conductive properties. While there is a lot of potential for the nanowires, they have not been used in the past because actually producing them has been a challenge.
The nanoparticles used to produce circuits are much more brittle and less conductive than silver nanowires. Conventional techniques for printing circuits don’t work with silver nanoparticles because the nanowires often clog printing nozzles. This is a challenge that the researchers attempted to solve.
“Our approach uses electrohydrodynamic printing, which relies on electrostatic force to eject the ink from the nozzle and draw it to the appropriate site on the substrate,” says Jingyan Dong, co-corresponding author of a paper on the work and an associate professor in NC State’s Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering. “This approach allows us to use a very wide nozzle – which prevents clogging – while retaining very fine printing resolution.”
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