The University of Nottingham
3D Electronics: Building blocks for 3D printed sensors and computers
This is a joint presentation with Geoffrey Rivers and Jisun Im.
Digitally controlled printing of electronics, either as components or full devices, is a rapidly progressing area of research. Breaking large systems, such as a multiplexed sensor array or computing system, into discrete building blocks at varying scales, such as the device scale (a single sensor, a memory cell, a digital inverter) or the component scale (a heterojunction, a responsive or state-switching element, a functional geometry such as resistor or antenna), leads to the construction of a library of inter-changeable and interactive elements that can be integrated into an ever expanding array of customisable designs. It is that customisability, multifunctionality, adaptability, and shared manufacturing methodology which makes development of 3D printed electronics technology desirable for future manufacturing. These open new opportunities for seamless integration of computing and sensing technology into structural systems, biomedical technology, energy systems, and food production. Previous groups have reported promising developments for 3D printing of transistors, memsistors, capacitors and super capacitors, photodetectors, chemical sensors, and more, using a variety of functional materials. Here we will discuss the challenges currently facing these devices stemming from materials, design, print control and processing, and opportunities for future work. The material challenges include optimisation for printing requirements, stability, electronic/mechanical properties and low-dimensional structure, post-treatments. Similarly, the challenges stemming from the print process include the complexities of multi-layer printing, emergent effects of multi-material interaction, scale and resolution in 3D printing, advancement from 2D to 3D architectures, and the anisotropy problem. We will highlight the applications and goals we seek to resolve with our research, including the materials we are currently investigating, our efforts thus far, our current accomplishments, and future avenues of exploration.
Dr Feiran Wang is a researcher in the Centre for Additive Manufacturing at the University of Nottingham. His research focuses on developing 3D printing technology for fabrications of customisable and scalable electronics. Using materials like metal nanoparticles and carbon-based graphene sheets, his work is to convert raw materials to functional electronic and optoelectronic devices, including studies of material properties, optimisation of fabrication process and analysis of functionalities. He recently published the result of his study on using inkjet-printed graphene, for the first time, to replace traditional exfoliated graphene as contacts in a prototype of a photodetector.
Wang received his PhD in physics from the University of Nottingham, where he studied quantum transport of physical systems and then moved to Loughborough University as a research fellow before joining the Centre for Additive Manufacturing at the University of Nottingham in 2018.
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