Researchers develop printable graphene inks
© Duncan Hull

Researchers develop printable graphene inks

New research has discovered that ink can be used to successfully ink-jet printable electronic devices based on combinations of different layered materials.

The research, published in Nature Nanotechnology, was performed in a collaboration between researchers at the University of Manchester, UK, and the University of Pisa, Italy.

The GRM inks containing conductive graphene, the insulator hexagonal boron nitride (hBN) and semiconductor transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs), provide the full range of electronic properties needed to print complex electronics, including photodetectors. The inks can be printed on to flexible and stiff substrates such as paper, glass and plastic, and the inks’ biocompatibility also suggests possibilities for printing biomedical devices such as sensor implants.

Gianluca Fiori, a researcher at the department of Information Engineering at the University of Pisa, Italy, said: “We are now entering a new scenario in the field of electronics, where electronic systems can be printed on demand and on flexible substrates as paper. GRMs based inks could indeed represent an enabling technology for the fast-growing market of flexible and portable electronics.”

One important area where these printed circuits could find application is in smart packaging. The internet of things (IoT) is enabling connectivity in a range of applications, and smart packaging could be ideal for managing inventories and monitoring spoilage in food, drinks and pharmaceuticals. “We are also very excited about the possibility of implementing logic circuits made of these materials – indeed, we are further developing these type of devices,” added Cinzia Casiraghi, a researcher in the School of Chemistry at the University of Manchester.

Coşkun Kocabaş, a researcher at Bilkent University, Turkey, is deputy leader of the Partnering Division of the Graphene Flagship, where Casiraghi’s ERC project NOC2D is affiliated, added: “This method provides the advantage of heterogeneous integration of conducting, semiconducting and dielectric layered materials. This capability will enable new directions in electronics aiming to generate very large scale and low cost circuits.

“Another exciting next step would be integration of this method with 3D printing techniques which could enable printed circuits with exotic topologies.”