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Photonic Curing of Low-Cost Aqueous Silver Flake Inks for Printed Conductors with Increased Yield

Cronin, Harry M., Stoeva, Zlatka, Brown, Martin, Shkunov, Maxim and Silva, S. Ravi P. (2018) Photonic Curing of Low-Cost Aqueous Silver Flake Inks for Printed Conductors with Increased Yield ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 10 (25). pp. 21398-21410.

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Abstract

Printing of highly conductive tracks at low cost is of primary importance for the emerging field of flexible, plastic, and large-area electronics. Commonly, this is achieved by printing of metallic conductive inks, often based on Ag or Cu nanoparticles dispersed in organic solvents. The solvents, which must be safely removed, have particular storage and handling requirements, thus increasing the process costs. By using water-based inks containing micron-sized silver flakes, both material and process costs can be reduced, making these inks attractive for industrial applications. However, the sintering of flake inks requires higher temperatures than nano-sized inks owing to the particles’ smaller surface area-to-volume ratio, meaning that when cured thermally the conductivity of many flake inks is lower than nanoparticle alternatives. This problem can be addressed by the application of visible light photonic curing; however, the substrate must be protected and so process parameters must be defined for each material/substrate combination. Here, we report results of a large-scale trial of photonic curing of aqueous flake silver inks on poly(ethylene terephthalate) substrates in an industrial setting. The resistivity of printed patterns after an optimized photocuring regime matched those reported for typical nanoparticle inks; on the order of 100 μΩ cm depending on substrate and geometry. Scanning electron microscopy revealed evidence for structural changes within the printed films consistent with localized melting and necking between adjacent particles, leading to an improved percolation network. Furthermore, in the large-scale industrial trial employing screen-printed silver lines, the manufacturing yield of conductive lines was increased from 44% untreated to 80% after photocuring and reached 100% when photocuring was combined with thermal curing. We believe this to be the first reported observation of an increase in the yield of printed electronic structures following photocuring. We propose a crack-healing mechanism to explain these increases in yield and conductivity. We further report on the effects of the photonic curing on the mechanical bending stability of the printed conductors and discuss their suitability for wearable applications.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences > Electronic Engineering
Authors :
NameEmailORCID
Cronin, Harry M.h.cronin@surrey.ac.uk
Stoeva, Zlatka
Brown, Martin
Shkunov, MaximM.Shkunov@surrey.ac.uk
Silva, S. Ravi P.S.Silva@surrey.ac.uk
Date : 4 June 2018
Funders : Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
DOI : 10.1021/acsami.8b04157
Uncontrolled Keywords : aqueous inks; intense pulsed light; photonic curing; printed electronics; silver conductive inks
Depositing User : Diane Maxfield
Date Deposited : 02 Jul 2018 14:42
Last Modified : 06 Jul 2019 05:25
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/848625

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