Printable electronics thanks to contactless liquid deposition

October 2, 2015 by Jochem Vreeman
Printable electronics thanks to contactless liquid deposition

Scientists of research institute MESA+ of Twente University have developed a technology for contactless deposition of liquids at nanoscale. In doing so, they make use of an electric field. Their technology will lead to new 3D-applications and can be of great value to, for example, cell research, nano-lithography and printable electronics. The findings of the Twente-based Mesoscale Chemical Systems Department have recently been published in the academic journal Applied Physics Letters.

In conventional techniques for liquid deposition, pressure is exerted on , or capillary forces are used. This is done with the aid of a so-called AFM (Atomic Force Microscopy) 'dip-pen' probe or a 'nano-fountain pen' probe. These probes have been equipped with a tip which permeates the liquid. A disadvantage of this method is that several elements, such as humidity and liquid or surface properties, can affect the deposition negatively.

The contactless deposition method with the AFM nano-fountain pen probe ensures a reliable and quick deposition of liquids on a 50 nanometre scale. This is thanks to the use of an . By applying a voltage, the liquids inside the tip are charged. The difference with the charge of the surface causes the liquid to be pulled out of the probe. A relatively low voltage (60 Volt) can already be sufficient. As the pulse duration increases, the volume of the liquid deposition will grow too.

The research now published was carried out in collaboration with the company SmartTip. This spin-off of the University of Twente develops and produces smart probes with new functionalities. Researcher Joël Geerlings of the Mesoscale Chemical Systems Department expects that many new possible 3D-applications lie ahead with the development of the new method. "Think of a 3D-printer with nanoscale resolution that produces a scaffold (construction) for cell research." Other applications are arrays of DNA or proteins, photonic crystals, microfluidic structures, printed electronics and MEMS structures (micro-electromechanical systems) for sensors, for example."

Explore further: Microscopic fountain pen to be used as a chemical sensor

More information: "Electric field controlled nanoscale contactless deposition using a nanofluidic scanning probe." Appl. Phys. Lett. 107, 123109 (2015);

Related Stories

Microscopic fountain pen to be used as a chemical sensor

January 15, 2014

The Atomic Force Microscope (AFM), which uses a fine-tipped probe to scan surfaces at the atomic scale, will soon be augmented with a chemical sensor. This involves the use of a hollow AFM cantilever, through which a liquid ...

Researchers identify movement of droplets on soft surfaces

August 5, 2015

Researchers from the University of Twente have succeeded in clearly identifying why droplets on soft, squishy surfaces react differently than on hard surfaces. A water droplet, for example, moves very differently over jelly ...

Is graphene hydrophobic or hydrophilic?

August 18, 2015

The National Physical Laboratory's (NPL) Quantum Detection Group has just published research investigating the hydrophobicity of epitaxial graphene, which could be used in the future to better tailor graphene coatings to ...

Recommended for you

Graphene photodetector enhanced by fractal golden 'snowflake'

January 16, 2017

(—Researchers have found that a snowflake-like fractal design, in which the same pattern repeats at smaller and smaller scales, can increase graphene's inherently low optical absorption. The results lead to graphene ...

Nanoscale view of energy storage

January 16, 2017

In a lab 18 feet below the Engineering Quad of Stanford University, researchers in the Dionne lab camped out with one of the most advanced microscopes in the world to capture an unimaginably small reaction.

Scientists create first 2-D electride

January 11, 2017

(—Researchers have brought electrides into the nanoregime by synthesizing the first 2D electride material. Electrides are ionic compounds, which are made of negative and positive ions. But in electrides, the negative ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.