(PhysOrg.com) -- A group of UK scientists has created a graphene ink that can be used to ink-jet print electronic devices such as thin film transistors.
Professor of Nanotechnology, Andrea Ferrari, and colleagues from the Engineering Department at the University of Cambridge have developed a method of creating a graphene ink that can be used with a modified ink-jet printer. Graphene consists of a hexagonal lattice of carbon only one atom thick, and has great advantages over polymer inks because of its greater electron mobility and electrical conductivity. Electronic components such as thin film transistors (TFTs) can already be created using ink-jet printing with ferro-electric polymer inks, but the performance of such components is poor and they are too slow for many applications.
Beginning with flakes of pure graphite, the team exfoliated layers of graphene using liquid phase exfoliation (LPE), which consists of sonication of the graphite in the presence of a solvent, N-Methylpyrrolidone (NMP). The graphene layers were ultracentrifuged and then filtered to remove any particles large enough (>1μm in diameter) to block the ink-jet printer heads. The graphene flakes were then used as the basis for a graphene-polymer ink, which was printed, using a modified ink-jet printer, onto Si/SiO2 substrates and the transparent substrate borosilicate glass. The final step in the process was annealing at high temperature to remove the solvent.
They demonstrated the new transparent graphene ink by using it to ink-jet print thin-film transistors, which they made by printing the graphene ink on Si/SiO2 wafers.