Televisions have changed dramatically: While bulky TV sets dominated our living rooms until just a few years ago, the screens are now so flat that they can easily be hung on the wall.
A close look at the inside of these devices will reveal fine conductor paths and transistors that supply the electricity needed to switch the pixels on the screen on and off. These circuits are manufactured layer by layer, usually by photolithography. The materials are deposited onto the entire surface of a substrate and covered with photoresist, which is exposed to light at specific points using a mask.
The exposed photoresist alters its chemical properties: It becomes soluble and can be easily removed. The layer to be structured returns to the surface and can be etched away. However, the parts of the layer still covered with photoresist remain intact. One major disadvantage of this process is that a large fraction of the deposited material is not used. A more cost-efficient and resource-saving method is to deposit the material by printing only in places where it will actually be needed later.
Printed electronics already exist in the form of conductor paths and devices made from polymers. However, their electrical properties cannot compete with those of inorganic materials. The charge carriers in the polymers travel more slowly, with the result that a printed RFID tag, for example, will have a shorter transmission range than a conventional one. Moreover, polymers tend to react more sensitively to moisture and UV light. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute of Integrated Systems and Device Technology IISB in Erlangen have now commissioned a process line in which electron devices can be printed from inorganic materials using an ink jet similar to those in any office printer. “We use ink made of nanoparticles and add a stabilizer so that the particles can be easily processed and do not clump together,” says IISB group manager Dr. Michael Jank.
The nano ink has passed the first printing tests and Jank hopes that the researchers will be able to print circuits performing simple functions in about a year’s time. “We expect printed products to cost around 50 percent less than silicon-based ones in the case of simple circuits,” he says. “Printed RFID tags should then be cheap enough to be attached to the packaging of low-cost products such as yogurts, where they can then monitor the temperature, and store and transmit data.”
Dr.-Ing. Michael Jank | alfa
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The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
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Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
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Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
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