Nanomaterials for Printed Electronics

Since the onset of industrial-scale electronics printing in the 1960s, the available nanomaterials for printed electronics have grown significantly. Copper (Cu) was the first major conductive material used to generate printed circuit boards (PCBs) by bonding a layer of foil to fiberglass substrates and etching circuitry into the encapsulating conductor.

Ground-breaking at the time, this technique was rapidly eclipsed by the need for increasingly miniature high-density electronic elements (capacitors, diodes, transistors, resistors, etc.). Manufacturers wanted to capitalize on the low-cost high-volume fabrication capabilities of printed electronics, which used a range of industrial printing methods that had long been established. Today, the chief printing techniques include:

  • Spin Coating / Doctor Blading
  • Slot Die Coating
  • Ink-Jet Printing
  • Screen Printing

Avantama explored each of these in greater depth in a recent article titled Printed Electronics: Exploring Key Printing Techniques. In this blog post, we are going to take a closer look at some of the available nanomaterials that are compatible with these techniques.

Perovskite Quantum Dots, Nanoparticles and Formulations for Electronics

Nanomaterials: Organic Vs. Inorganic

Two overarching material types govern the classifications of distinct nanomaterials for printed electronics: organic and inorganic. Both types are used in modern printed electronics, playing the roles of conductors, dielectrics, insulators, or semiconductors.

Organic nanomaterials for printed electronics are closely linked to the wider field of organic electronics, which concerns the use of organic small molecules (i.e. polymers) with desirable electronic or optical properties. Poly(3,4-ethylene dioxythiophene), for example, is a high-stability polymer that conducts electricity and adopts good optical transparency while in a conducting state. Conjugated polymers have also been used to generate polymeric semiconductors for light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and other readily-available consumer devices.

There are limitations to the functionality of organic nanomaterials for printed electronics, however. Notably, they cannot match the levels of quality in terms of layer structures and interfacial functionality offered by inorganic nanomaterials. 

Inorganic nanomaterials are commonly based on metallic materials and oxides which can be finely tailored in terms of composition and morphology, thus their desirable electronic and optical properties. Recent developments in the use of inorganic nanomaterials for electronics applications has yielded a range of benefits to applications ranging from consumer electronics and devices to the energy sector.

Inorganic Nanomaterials from Avantama

Avantama specializes in the synthesis of precise and homogenous inorganic nanomaterials tailored for customer-specific production lines. With unrivaled experience in the field of specialty nanoparticle formulation, we can readily produce over 10,000 distinct compositions suitable for practically any established method of deposition.

We also stock a selection of tried-and-tested products that are available off-the-shelf up to maximum quantities. These nanomaterials include pure zinc oxide (ZnO) and aluminum-doped zinc oxide (Al:ZnO), tin dioxide (SnO2), molybdenum trioxide (MoO3), tungsten trioxide (WO3), and nickel oxide (NiO) in a choice of solvents (2-propanol, alcohols, and butanols).

If you would like to talk about the individual functions of any of our standard formulations or want to discuss a proprietary solution to your printed electronics needs, simply contact a member of the Avantama team today.