Electronic circuits made from ‘wonder material’ graphene, which is the world’s thinnest, strongest and most conductive material, can be printed via home printers, researchers say.
The researchers, from Cambridge University, made flexible electronics from graphene using an ink-jet printer, bringing devices such as wearable computers a step closer.
The scientists created a graphene-based ink and used a modified Epson printer to produce the thin-film circuits.
Printed electronics are not new in terms of technology but at the moment they use metal nanoparticle inks, which oxidise after some years and lack the efficiency of silicon-based circuits.
The Cambridge team, led by Andrea Ferrari, have made a giant leap forward as their printable graphene transistors are lighter, more conductive, more stable and cheaper to produce than anything seen before.
The graphene is made from ordinary graphite – the ‘lead’ in pencils.
The researchers took a block of it, chipped off some microscopic flakes and dissolved it in N-Methylpyrrolidone, or NMP.
This solution was then loaded into an ink cartridge and printed out.
“This paves the way to all-printed, flexible and transparent graphene devices on arbitrary substrates,” Ferrari said.