Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Nanotube ink: Desktop printing of carbon nanotube patterns

31.08.2006
Using an off-the-shelf inkjet printer, a team of scientists has developed a simple technique for printing patterns of carbon nanotubes on paper and plastic surfaces.

The method, which is described in the August 2006 issue of the journal Small, could lead to a new process for manufacturing a wide range of nanotube-based devices, from flexible electronics and conducting fabrics to sensors for detecting chemical agents.

Carbon nanotubes have enticed researchers since their discovery in 1991, offering an impressive combination of high strength, low weight, and excellent conductivity. But most current techniques to make nanotube-based devices require complex and expensive equipment.

"Our results suggest new alternatives for fabricating nanotube patterns by simply printing the dissolved particles on paper or plastic surfaces," said Robert Vajtai, a researcher with the Rensselaer Nanotechnology Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and corresponding author of the paper.

Vajtai and his colleagues at Rensselaer - along with a group of researchers led by Krisztián Kordás and Géza Tóth at the University of Oulu in Finland - have developed an approach that uses a commercial inkjet printer to deposit nanotubes onto various surfaces. They simply fill a conventional ink cartridge with a solution of carbon nanotubes dissolved in water, and then the printer produces a pattern just as if it was printing with normal ink. Because nanotubes are good conductors, the resulting images also are able to conduct electricity.

"Printed carbon nanotube structures could be useful in many ways," Vajtai said. "Some potential applications based on their electrical conductivity include flexible electronics for displays, antennas, and batteries that can be integrated into paper or cloth." Printing electronics on cloth could allow people to actually "wear" the battery for their laptop computer or the entire electronic system for their cell phone, according to Vajtai.

The technique could be used to print optical tags on money and other paper items that need to be tracked, and it could even lead to an electronic newspaper where the text can be switched without changing the paper, he said. The researchers printed different samples, some of which show sensitivity to the vapors of several chemicals, which also could make them useful as gas sensors.

The approach is simple, versatile, and inexpensive, which makes it superior to other methods for producing conductive surfaces, according to Vajtai. "A great advantage of our process is that the printed patterns do not require curing, which is known to be a limiting factor for conventional conductive ink applications," he said. "And since our ink is a simple water-based dispersion of nanotubes, it is environmentally friendly and easy to handle and store."

Because the process uses off-the-shelf printers, cartridges, and paper or plastic surfaces, the only real expense is the cost of the nanotubes. For this experiment, the researchers made their own multi-walled carbon nanotubes, which were then chemically modified to allow them to dissolve in water. But similar nanotubes can be purchased for as little as a tenth of the price of the more expensive single-walled variety of carbon nanotubes, Vajtai said. And the cost of nanotubes should continue to drop as commercial demand for higher volumes grows.

The researchers plan to continue optimizing the process to improve the quality of the nanotube ink and the conductivity of the printed images. At present, the paper or plastic must be run through the printer multiple times to get an electrically conductive pattern, with the conductivity increasing after each repetition. They also hope to experiment with different chemical modifications to produce a diversity of ink "colors," each producing surface patterns with different properties, Vajtai said.

Jason Gorss | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.rpi.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht CCNY physicists master unexplored electron property
26.07.2017 | City College of New York

nachricht Large, distant comets more common than previously thought
26.07.2017 | University of Maryland

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

CCNY physicists master unexplored electron property

26.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Molecular microscopy illuminates molecular motor motion

26.07.2017 | Life Sciences

Large-Mouthed Fish Was Top Predator After Mass Extinction

26.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>