A new method for printing high-performance silicon directly onto flexible materials could lead to advances in prosthetic devices. Engineers from the University of Glasgow Bendable Electronics and Sensing Technologies (BEST) group improved upon the conventional three-stage stamping process to create flexible electronics.
Most advanced flexible electronics have been manufactured by transfer printing, a three-stage stamping process.
The researchers removed the second stage of the conventional transfer printing process, making large-scale, complex flexible devices possible. Instead of transferring nanostructures to a soft polymeric stamp before it is transferred to the final substrate, their new process, direct roll transfer, prints silicon directly onto a flexible surface.
The team has created highly uniform prints over an area of about 10 square centimeters, with around 95 percent transfer yield, which they say is significantly higher than most conventional transfer printing processes.
“Layers of flexible material stretched over prosthetic limbs could provide amputees with better control over their prosthetics, or even integrate sensors to give users a sense of ‘touch,'” said Ravinder Dahiya, PhD, leader of the BEST group. “It’s a simpler process capable of producing high-performance flexible electronics with results as good as, if not better, than conventional silicon-based electronics. It’s also potentially cheaper and more resource efficient because it uses less material, and better for the environment because it produces less waste in the form of unusable transfers.”
Editor’s note: This story was adapted from materials provided by the University of Glasgow.
The study, “Direct roll transfer printed silicon nanoribbon arrays based high-performance flexible electronics,” was published in NPJ Flexible Electronics.