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Silver Ink

February 16, 2012

A silver ink makes better ultra-thin, printable electronics.



Printable electronics.  I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

The next generation of gadgets may include medical sensors embedded in skin decals, or mp3 players printed on shirts.  They’re printable electronics, that come right out of inkjet printers, University of Illinois material scientists Jennifer Lewis and Brett Walker have developed a silver ink that tops existing versions.  As Lewis explains, the silver doesn’t clump into particles until after it’s printed.

JENNIFER LEWIS (University of Illinois):

It can flow readily through nozzles as fine as 100 nanometers in diameter.  And without having the particles present initially, there’s nothing to clog the nozzle.

Nozzles for other conductive inks have to be at least ten times bigger.  The silver ink is also quicker to prepare, more stable, and less prone to oxidation.  That could make it easier to create powerful gizmos that can be rolled, flexed, or folded.  I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.