New technology allows you to print electronic devices in the same way your inkjet printer prints a document or photo.
Now researchers at Palo Alto Research Center have used this technique to build a portable X-ray imager and small mechanical devices.
“It’s a demonstration of how far this technology can go,” said Tina Ng of the Palo Alto Research Center. She will describe these devices at the AVS 61st International Symposium & Exhibition, being held Nov. 9-14, 2014, in Baltimore, Md.
Making electronics on conventional silicon wafers can be costly and time consuming. Traditional photolithography methods, Ng explained, are complex. You first have to deposit layers of material, place a stencil-like mask on it, and then shine ultraviolet light to etch away the exposed material. You then repeat the process to create the patterns needed to form electronic circuits and devices.
But in the last ten years, researchers have been developing ways to deposit patterns of metals, semiconductors and other material directly, just like how a printer deposits patterns of ink. The materials are dissolved in a liquid solution, which can then be printed on a variety of substrates, such as plastic, paper and even fabric. When the “ink” dries, the material remains.
As a demonstration of this technology, Ng and her colleagues built a digital X-ray sensor. Using printing techniques, the researchers fabricated flexible X-ray imager arrays on plastic films that are much more portable than the behemoths at your dentist’s office. Such a device could be used by doctors in the field, serve as small security scanners or even help soldiers identify bombs in battle.
The Latest on: Digital printed electronics
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The Latest on: Digital printed electronics
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