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PLoS One. 2012;7(9):e45485. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0045485. Epub 2012 Sep 19.

Direct writing of flexible electronics through room temperature liquid metal ink.

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  • 1Key Laboratory of Cryogenics, Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Conventional approaches of making a flexible circuit are generally complex, environment unfriendly, time and energy consuming, and thus expensive. Here, we describe for the first time the method of using high-performance GaIn(10)-based electrical ink, a significantly neglected room temperature liquid metal, as both electrical conductors and interconnects, for directly writing flexible electronics via a rather easy going and cost effective way.

METHODS:

The new generation electric ink was made and its wettability with various materials was modified to be easily written on a group of either soft or rigid substrates such as epoxy resin board, glass, plastic, silica gel, paper, cotton, textiles, cloth and fiber etc. Conceptual experiments were performed to demonstrate and evaluate the capability of directly writing the electrical circuits via the invented metal ink. Mechanisms involved were interpreted through a series of fundamental measurements.

RESULTS:

The electrical resistivity of the fluid like GaIn(10)-based material was measured as 34.5 µΩ·cm at 297 K by four point probe method and increased with addition of the oxygen quantity, which indicates it as an excellent metal ink. The conductive line can be written with features that are approximately 10 µm thick. Several functional devices such as a light emitting diode (LED) array showing designed lighting patterns and electrical fan were made to work by directly writing the liquid metal on the specific flexible substrates. And satisfactory performances were obtained.

CONCLUSIONS:

The present method opens the way to directly and quickly writing flexible electronics which can be as simple as signing a name or drawing a picture on the paper. The unique merit of the GaIn(10)-based liquid metal ink lies in its low melting temperature, well controlled wettability, high electrical conductivity and good biocompability. The new electronics writing strategy and basic principle has generalized purpose and can be extended to more industrial areas, even daily life.

PMID:
23029044
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3446874
Free PMC Article
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