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Novel Low Temperature Copper Inkjet Inks are a Low Cost Alternative to Silver for Printed Electronics

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Demand for the use of metal-based inkjet inks for printed electronic applications is well known. Gold and silver based inks have been produced, but cost and performance limitations are likely to remain major obstacles to widespread adoption. Copper, which is potentially a low cost alternative, readily oxidizes, particularly in highly reactive nanoparticle form, making it unsuitable for ink formulation.

However, using a combination of highly specified copper nanoparticles and a proprietary coating and functionalization process, it has been possible to protect the copper from oxidation and produce a stable copper inkjet ink.

The ink enables the direct printing of copper circuits via established commercial inkjet technology. After printing, an oxide free conductive copper track is produced via rapid thermal annealing of the deposited ink. The ink has been specifically designed for photonic curing in air via high intensity light sources ie. lasers or broad band flash lamps. This low temperature curing allows the use of low cost, low temperature, flexible, and other, substrates including paper, PET, polyimide, polyester, FR4, and glass. Conductivities are comparable to commercial silver inks with significantly higher metal loadings.

Information around applications and performance is presented along with plans to extend the technology to other metals and applications.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2011

More about this publication?
  • For more than 25 years, NIP has been the leading forum for discussion of advances and new directions in non-impact and digital printing technologies. A comprehensive, industry-wide conference, this meeting includes all aspects of the hardware, materials, software, images, and applications associated with digital printing systems, including drop-on-demand ink jet, wide format ink jet, desktop and continuous ink jet, toner-based electrophotographic printers, production digital printing systems, and thermal printing systems, as well as the engineering capability, optimization, and science involved in these fields.

    Since 2005, NIP has been held in conjunction with the Digital Fabrication Conference.

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