An international group of researchers say they have developed a simple and environmentally friendly method for producing material to be used in inexpensive conductive ink. Printed electronics have endless potential applications, but they are limited by the price and availability of conductive inks. Researchers at Toyohashi Tech and Duke University found a new way to create copper alloy nanoparticles, a conductive material with high oxidation resistance that could be the answer to the printed electronics problem.
To produce the nanoparticles, the researchers used a method called wire explosion, which sounds more complicated than it is. They electrically exploded alloy or twisted metal wires in water with a mild reducing agent (Vitamin C). Then they measured the electrical conductivity of the resulting copper alloy nanoparticles and found that they performed as well as copper, but with better performance in humid environments.
“We have been working on developing a ‘wire explosion’ method to produce novel metal nanoparticles. Then, we found that some of the produced copper alloy nanoparticles possessed both high oxidation resistance and low electrical resistance,” explains Assistant Professor Go Kawamura. “Moreover, the nanoparticles have the advantage of being inexpensive because the production process is very economical and environmentally friendly.”
With further improvement, the wire explosion method could be used to produce affordable, highly conductive inks for printed and flexible electronics. The research is described in an article published in the journal Scientific Reports.