Researchers Jing Liu and team at the Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry in Beijing, have created a revolutionary way to print electronic circuits on a range of materials. Including : paper, plastic, glass, rubber, cotton cloth and tree leaves using just an inkjet printer filled with liquid metal.
The liquid metal is an alloy of gallium and indium which is liquid at room temperature and can be used in a inkjet printer creating a spray of droplets that create the final circuit layout.
The technology is cheap to create and is expected to allow a wide variety of new process and products to be developed using the process to lay the circuits on a wide range of materials.
“The droplets rapidly oxidise as the travel through the air and this oxide forms a surface layer on each drop that prevents further oxidisation. That’s handy because the liquid metal itself does not easily adhere to the substrates. But the metal oxides do and this is the reason, say Jing and co, that the circuits adhere so well to a wide range of surfaces.
They also say it’s relatively easy to create almsot any circuit pattern, either by moving the printer head over the substrate or by using a mask. And they’ve demonstrated this by printing conducting circuits on cotton cloth, plastic, glass and paper as well as on a leaf.”
For more information on the new liquid metal jump over to the “Atomized Spraying Of Liquid Metal Droplets On Desired Substrate Surfaces As A Generalized Way For Ubiquitous Printed Electronics “ document website for details. PDF available here.