Flexible and Stretchable Silver Nanowire Circuits

  • A new technique that allows them to print circuits on flexible, stretchable substrates using silver nanowires.
  • The advance makes it possible to integrate the material into a wide array of electronic devices.
  • This is  used in many applications, ranging from prosthetic devices to wearable health sensors, due to their flexibility, stretchability and conductive properties.
  • While proof-of-concept experiments have been promising, there have been significant challenges to printing highly integrated circuits using silver nanowires.
  • This  approach uses electrohydrodynamic printing, which relies on electrostatic force to eject the ink from the nozzle and draw it to the appropriate site on the substrate.
  • This approach allows us to use a very wide nozzle which prevents clogging while retaining very fine printing resolution.
  • The ink consists of a solvent containing silver nanowires that are typically more than 20 micrometers long, the resulting circuits have the desired conductivity, flexibility and stretchability.
  • The solvent we use is both nontoxic and water-soluble. Once the circuit is printed, the solvent can simply be washed off.
  • The size of the printing area is limited only by the size of the printer, meaning the technique could be easily scaled up.
  • The researchers have used the new technique to create prototypes that make use of the silver nanowire circuits, including a glove with an internal heater and a wearable electrode for use in electrocardiography.
  • Given the technique’s efficiency, direct writing capability, and scalability, that this can be used to advance the development of flexible, stretchable electronics using silver nanowires making these devices practical from a manufacturing perspective.

 

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