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Geoffrey Rivers

The University of Nottingham

3D Electronics: Building blocks for 3D printed sensors and computers

This is a joint presentation with Feiran Wang 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. Rivers earned his PhD at the University of Waterloo, studying the relationship between processing conditions and final properties of novel epoxy-matrix conductive nanocomposites, as well as the synthesis of silver nanoparticles. Dr. Rivers is currently continuing his research at the University of Nottingham, with the Centre for Additive Manufacturing (CfAM), investigating functional materials for inkjet 3D printing, with a focus on electrically conductive or otherwise functional polymer inks for inkjet printing of electronics and sensors. His previous post-doctoral positions were at the University of Waterloo, as a researcher in two projects concurrently: the first with the Surface Science & Bio-nanomaterials Laboratory, Chemical Engineering Department, studying functional nanomaterials and polymers; the second with the Impact Mechanics and Material Characterization Group, Mechanical Engineering Department, investigating the polymer microstructure driving force behind hygrothermal aging of TPU-adhered antiballistic transparent composite armour.


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