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Silver Pen Has the Write Stuff For Flexible Electronics

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Silver pen

Led by professor Jennifer Lewis, University of Illinois engineers developed a pen with conductive silver ink that can write electric circuits and interconnects directly on paper and other surfaces.

Photo courtesy of Bok Yeop Ahn

University of Illinois researchers have developed a silver-inked rollerball pen that can write electrical circuits and interconnects on paper and other materials. "This is an important step toward enabling desktop manufacturing (or personal fabrication) using very low cost, ubiquitous printing tools," says Illinois professor Jennifer Lewis, who led the research along with Illinois professor Jennifer Bernhard.

The pen's ink dries to leave conductive silver pathways that can maintain their conductivity even after the paper is bent and folded multiple times. "The key advantage of the pen is that the costly printers and printheads typically required for inkjet or other printing approaches are replaced with an inexpensive, handheld writing tool," Lewis says.

She says the device could lead to new possibilities in art, disposable electronics, and folded three-dimensional devices. The researchers plan to expand the types of inks that can be used with the device to enable pen-on-paper writing for other electronic and ionically-conductive materials.

From University of Illinois News Bureau
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