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Advances in Photonic Sintering to Improve Electronics Manufacturing

While most people simply think of light as something with which to see, scientists know otherwise. The fact of the matter is that light has untapped potential and some truly impressive powers; and the latest light-based discovery has experts convinced that highly advanced flexible technology is closer to mass production than ever before.

Researchers at Oregon State University’s College of Engineering have discovered a previously unknown relationship between film temperature and densification. By using intense pulsed light (IPL) to rapidly fuse functional conductive nanoparticles, scientists learned that densification of the IPL increases the density of nanoparticle-thin film. The result? This increase in density allows for a greater electrical conductivity, which has virtually endless applications — particularly in the realm of flexible electronics.

Scientists uncovered this relationship based on how the IPL reacted to temperature changes. The discovery of a temperature turning point in IPL could prove a significant factor in the design and development of advanced technology. The temperature turning point does not indicate a change in the pulsing energy; instead, the optical absorption and densification interact in such a way that scientists can now adjust the density as needed. This means they can cut down on the size of electronics to make them more flexible without sacrificing functionality.

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Thanks to this discovery of how to manipulate IPL, previously time-consuming manufacturing could be cut down to just a few seconds. IPL sintering will allow for faster densification over significantly larger areas. This means that scientists could sinter nanoparticles in extremely advanced electronics and other technologies in the blink of an eye.

Now scientists are working on determining the ideal number of pulses before densification levels off. It’s a delicate balance; too few pulses, and the process is incomplete. Too many, and the densification will level off. A close and thorough observation of the temperature turning point is essential for the process to prove a success.

Despite a few details to work out before mass manufacturing can begin, scientists are excited about the potential products that could evolve from this research. Flexible electronics, biomedical sensors, environmental devices, and a host of other technology could be quickly and easily rendered due to this discovery. Leave it to scientists to shed a little light on the problem of advanced manufacturing.

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