Printable electronics

    New stamping technique creates functional features at nanoscale dimensions.

    MIT Printed Electronics 1 Web
    MIT researchers have fabricated a stamp made from forests of carbon nanotubes that prints electronic inks onto rigid and flexible surfaces. Photo, Sanha Kim and Dhanushkodi Mariappan

    The next time you place your coffee order, imagine slapping onto your to-go cup a sticker that acts as an electronic decal, letting you know the precise temperature of your triple-venti no-foam latte. Someday, the high-tech stamping that produces such a sticker might also bring us food packaging that displays a digital countdown to warn of spoiling produce, or even a window pane that shows the day’s forecast, based on measurements of the weather conditions outside.

    Engineers at MIT have invented a fast, precise printing process that may make such electronic surfaces an inexpensive reality. In a paper published Dec. 7, 2016, in Science Advances, the researchers report that they have fabricated a stamp made from forests of carbon nanotubes that is able to print electronic inks onto rigid and flexible surfaces.

    A. John Hart, the Mitsui Career Development Associate Professor in Contemporary Technology and Mechanical Engineering at MIT, says the team’s stamping process should be able to print transistors small enough to control individual pixels in high-resolution displays and touchscreens. The new printing technique may also offer a relatively cheap, fast way to manufacture electronic surfaces for as-yet-unknown applications.

    “There is a huge need for printing of electronic devices that are extremely inexpensive but provide simple computations and interactive functions,” Hart says. “Our new printing process is an enabling technology for high-performance, fully printed electronics, including transistors, optically functional surfaces, and ubiquitous sensors.”

    Read more at the MIT News Office.

    Jennifer Chu | MIT News Office
    December 7, 2016