Secor, from Stillwater, Minnesota, is developing graphene-based inks, which can be printed with traditional methods like inkjet printing.
“For printed electronics, instead of printing red, green and blue inks, we’re printing conductors, semiconductors and insulators – different classes of electronically functional materials,” says Secor.
Printing electronics with graphene inks – either on paper or plastic substrates – not only reduces the manufacturing costs of electronic components, but it also allows the use of flexible surfaces.
“We’re taking mature, high-speed printing methods designed to print out hundreds of thousands of magazines and applying them to electronics.” For example, if you want to cover the desert in solar panels, it doesn’t make sense to use the technology used to fabricate computer chips.
Since graphene offers an agile, low-cost platform, printed electronics can also open up opportunities for smaller companies to get into the industry – leading to a more innovative, dynamic market.
In a sense, the process of printing graphene inks is similar to putting a piece of fabric into an inkjet printer and getting a piece of conductive fabric.
If you replace the ink used to make graphic images with a functional material, you could print lights, batteries, sensors and even solar cells.