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Printable Electronics

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The highly detailed stamp is made from strong, microscopic sheets of carbon, arranged in cylinders.

An ultra-thin, high-resolution printing process developed by engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology uses carbon nanotubes to print electronic inks on rigid and flexible surfaces.

Credit: Sanha Kim and Dhanushkodi Mariappan

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) engineers have developed an ultra-thin, high-resolution printing process that makes use of nanoporous stamps.

The team has fabricated a stamp made from forests of carbon nanotubes that is able to print electronic inks onto rigid and flexible surfaces. The stamp is more spongier than rubber, about the size of a pinky fingernail, and features patterns that are much smaller than the width of a human hair.

The researchers note a solution of nanoparticles, or "ink," can flow through the stamp and onto the printing surface, and this design should enable the technique to achieve much higher resolution than conventional rubber stamp printing, also known as flexography. The team says its system could print at 200 millimeters per second, continuously, which is competitive with industrial printing technology, and notes the printed patterns are highly conductive.

The stamping technique potentially could be used to print affordable electronic devices that provide simple computations and interactive functions.

"There is a huge need for printing of electronic devices that are extremely inexpensive but provide simple computations and interactive functions," says MIT professor John Hart. "Our new printing process is an enabling technology for high-performance, fully printed electronics, including transistors, optically functional surfaces, and ubiquitous sensors."

From MIT News
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