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Chinese Researchers Advance Printed Electronics

Printed electronics have the potential to make a significant impact on manufacturing by offering companies an inexpensive and relatively simple method of building electronic functionality into a number of different products. With some additional development, printed electronics could be used to produce cheap solar panels, interactive clothing and a number of other useful items.

Currently, most printed electronics require laboratory conditions and can only be printed at temperatures starting at 750°F (400°C). Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences may have boosted the appeal of printed electronics by discovering a method to print on ordinary paper at lower temperatures.

Printed RFID Antenna

RFID antenna printed using a new low temperature technique developed by researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Courtesy of Jing Liu.

From the paper “Direct Desktop Printed-Circuits-on-Paper Flexible Electronics” published in Scientific Reports:

“Compared with the conventional ways of making flexible electronics using existing conductive inks, the present high-efficiency direct printing process has relatively lower-cost, simpler process, well acceptable conductivity and is more environmentally friendly which guarantees the really ‘green’ fabrication of electronics. Moreover, the whole printing process is completed under room temperature, which hardly brings about detrimental influence to the paper substrate and is capable of ensuring the printed circuits’ own excellent electrical performance and mechanical flexibility.”

Discovery of a method to produce these electronics at low temperatures could open the door to broader implementation and could even allow home printers to build electronics. In addition to offering less expensive manufacturing of televisions and RFID chips, this process could eventually allow businesses to simply print batteries directly into electronic devices.

Below you’ll find a video about the potential of printed electronics.

Sources: National Geographic, Scientific Reports

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