Next Generation Non-Vacuum, Maskless, Low Temperature Nanoparticle Ink Laser Digital Direct Metal Patterning for a Large Area Flexible Electronics
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0042315
Flexible electronics opened a new class of future electronics. The foldable, light and durable nature of flexible electronics allows vast flexibility in applications such as display, energy devices and mobile electronics. Even though conventional electronics fabrication methods are well developed for rigid substrates, direct application or slight modification of conventional processes for flexible electronics fabrication cannot work. The future flexible electronics fabrication requires totally new low-temperature process development optimized for flexible substrate and it should be based on new material too. Here we present a simple approach to developing a flexible electronics fabrication without using conventional vacuum deposition and photolithography. We found that direct metal patterning based on laser-induced local melting of metal nanoparticle ink is a promising low-temperature alternative to vacuum deposition- and photolithography-based conventional metal patterning processes. The "digital" nature of the proposed direct metal patterning process removes the need for expensive photomask and allows easy design modification and short turnaround time. This new process can be extremely useful for current small-volume, large-variety manufacturing paradigms. Besides, simple, scalable, fast and low-temperature processes can lead to cost-effective fabrication methods on a large-area polymer substrate. The developed process was successfully applied to demonstrate high-quality Ag patterning (2.1 µΩ·cm) and high-performance flexible organic field effect transistor arrays.