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Making electric inks less expensive

NSF Award:

GOALI: Flame-based Synthesis of Metal Nanoparticles at Millisecond Residence Times  (SUNY at Buffalo)

Congressional Districts:
Research Areas:

Sensors, flexible displays and "smart" packaging are a few examples of printable electronics. Producing these versatile devices requires inks that conduct electricity but making the ink is expensive. To reduce fabrication costs, Mark Swihart and a team at the University at Buffalo, in collaboration with researchers at Praxair Inc., headquartered in Danbury, Conn., have developed a simple, one-step process to produce complex, metallic nanoparticles and coatings that could be used as inks.

More economical inks will help reduce the cost of printable electronics, photovoltaics and other related technologies and offer a route to multifunctional materials with properties readily tailored for a wide range of applications. In the case of printable radio-electronic "tags," a lower cost ink could enable the tags to replace optical bar codes for product tracking at the consumer level.

The flame-based process developed by Swihart and his colleagues permits them to precisely control the composition of the nanoparticles to produce alloy nanoparticles and nanostructured films. These multicomponent materials can provide properties, such as electrical conductivity, at lower material cost than single material particles. Metal alloys or extensively-mixed nanocomposites offer combinations of cost and performance not possible with other materials. Moreover, detailed characterization of multimetallic nanocrystals and nanostructured coatings produced in this work provides fundamental insights into the mechanisms of particle and film formation.


  • a gallery of nanoparticles and thin films made with a flame-based process
Metallic nanoparticles and thin films.
Munish K. Sharma, University at Buffalo (SUNY)

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