The emerging field of printed and flexible electronics promises low-cost, large-area electronic devices for a range of applications such as biomedical and environmental sensing, portable power conversion and storage, radio frequency identification, and flexible displays, among others. By integrating electronic ‘inks’ with large-scale solution-phase printing methods, a new regime of low cost, high throughput and advanced functionality could be attained.
Innovation in both materials and printing methods benefit this overarching vision, and new work from a group at Northwestern University addresses both challenges. Graphene, the two-dimensional carbon nanomaterial, offers extraordinary properties well-suited to printed electronics, but remains difficult to manipulate reliably in a large-scale format. The researchers have developed a high concentration graphene ink suitable for screen printing, along with an advanced screen printing method capable of fabricating high-resolution graphene patterns. Offering high conductivity and flexibility, the team also demonstrate these graphene electrodes in all-printed organic thin film transistors.