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Aerosol Jet Printing of Electrically Conductive Inks on Flexible Substrates
Keywords: Aerosol Jet Printing , Conductive Inks , Flexible Substrates
In recent years, there has been growing interest in the development of micro-electronic circuits on flexible substrates for low-cost, large-scale, flexible and lightweight devices such as roll-up display, e-papers and solar cells. Development of flexible conductive materials that are suitable for high performance print technology with desired dimensions such as trace thickness, width and pitch present significant challenges. An effort to meet these challenges is presented in this paper. Aerosol jet printing delivers the unique ability to print electronic and other materials onto any type of substrate, in dimensions ranging from 10 micrometers (microns) up to centimeter scale. Another advantage of aerosol jet technology is that it can be used on irregular (non-planar and curved) surfaces. The pneumatic aerosol jet printing is best suited for higher and wider range viscosity inks for example; 100 cP-1000 cP whereas ultrasonic aerosol jet printing utilize very low viscosity ~5 cP (centi-Poise) ink. These low viscosity inks with nano silver particles can be used to generate fine feature traces. For this study, two silver inks (solvent based) containing sub-micron and nano size particles in polymer (thermoplastic) matrix were prepared for aerosol jet printing. The Pneumatic aerosol jet printing was utilized for ink-A, that contains sub-micron (D50~300nm) size silver filler and a viscosity of ~500cp, to achieve 1 micron thick and 500um wide traces. Furthermore, the ultrasonic aerosol jet printing was utilized to achieve finer and thinner structures. Traces with dimensions less than 15 um width and similar pitch were achieved. The ink-B is the suspension of silver with nano particles (<100nm) into a polymer matrix and viscosity ranges from 5cP to 6cP. Both inks produced an excellent electrical resistance; sheet resistance of ~3 mΩ/□/mil when cured at 130C/20mins, strong crease resistance, and excellent mechanical strength on flexible substrates.
Himal Khatri, Sr. Scientist of Product Development
Henkel Electronic Materials
Irvine, CA

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