The idea is to use graphene and other electrically conducting materials with conventional water-based inks and print using typical commercial equipment. The method is to use graphene for printing on a large-scale commercial printing press at high speed and low cost. Graphene is a two-dimensional sheet of carbon atoms, just one atom thick.
A conventional roll-to-roll printing method, like that used to print crisp packets and newspapers, can use graphene inks. It is appropriate due to its optical transparency, flexibility and electrical conductivity. And, could open up a wide range of practical applications, including inexpensive disposable sensors, intelligent packaging and printed electronics. Diverse applications are there for graphene and other similar conductive inks, due to their ability to be used smoothly for printing at a commercial scale at a very high speed. The technique will permit to put electronic systems into entirely unexpected shapes due to its incredibly flexible enabling technology.
The procedure is carried out by hanging tiny elements of graphene in a 'carrier' solvent amalgamation and then, added to conductive water-based ink formulations. The liquid’s properties can be control by adjusting the ratio of the ingredients, letting the carrier solvent to be easily mix into a conventional conductive water-based ink to significantly decrease the resistance. The similar technique works for materials other than graphene, including isolating, semiconducting and metallic nanoparticles.
Currently, printed conductive patterns use a blend of poorly conducting carbon with other materials, most commonly silver, which is luxurious. The new graphene ink design would be 25 times cheaper, compared to silver-based inks costing $800 or more per kilogram. Furthermore, silver is not recyclable, while graphene and other carbon materials can easily be recycled. The novel system uses inexpensive, non-hazardous and environmental friendly solvents that can be dried rapidly at room temperature, dipping energy costs for ink curing. Once dry, the 'electric ink' is also waterproof and stick to its substrate very well.
The graphene-based ink is in mark with commercial production rates for graphics lithography and can print at a rate of more than 100 metres per minute. Through the use of this new ink, more multipurpose devices on paper or plastic can be made at a rate of 300 per minute, at a very low cost.
The technique is tested on a classic commercial printing press, which required no modifications in order to print with the graphene ink. In addition to the new applications, the method can expand into the electronics segment, opening entirely new business opportunities for commercial graphics printers. In addition to cheaper printable electronics, this technology opens up probable application areas such as smart packaging and disposable sensors, which to date have largely been unapproachable due to cost.