Researchers at Purdue Community University in West Lafayette, Indiana have developed a unique inkjet technology using liquid metal nanoparticles. It can be used in the manufacture of flexible electronic circuits, which in turn are used in wearable electronics, robots and curved devices.
The creation of flexible electronics means that many rigid platforms can become flexible, thereby opening up a whole host of potential possibilities for electronic devices.
The essence of the new technology is that for inkjet printing it is proposed to use ink (rapidly evaporating after printing) with conductive nanoparticles, the uniform distribution of which is ensured through the use of ultrasound. Flexible conductors can be “printed” on almost any surface.
Liquid metal in its original state cannot be used for inkjet printing. Therefore, we decided to create nanoparticles from liquid metal. They are small enough to pass through the jet nozzles. Ultrasound in a carrier solvent such as ethanol scatters the nanoparticles it contains. We can print circuits on any substrate. Ethanol after printing evaporates, after which only particles of liquid metal remain on the surface, the researchers report.
We add that the unique technology is still new and needs to be improved for use in mass production. Now the team of scientists plans to investigate the properties of various new inks and how they interact with the surface during and after printing. The research results will be published in Advanced Materials this Saturday, April 18th.