Conductive paper could enable future flexible electronics

May 17, 2017, American Chemical Society
Researchers make conductive paper by coating it with an ionic gel. Credit: American Chemical Society

Roll-up computer screens and other flexible electronics are getting closer to reality as scientists improve upon a growing number of components that can bend and stretch. One team now reports in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces another development that can contribute to this evolution: a low-cost conductive paper that would be easy to manufacture on a large scale.

Current flexible electronic prototypes are commonly built using polymer thin films. But the cost of these films becomes a factor when they are scaled up. To address this issue, scientists have turned to paper, which is renewable, biodegradable and a fraction of the cost of polymer thin . The downside of paper is that it's not conductive, and efforts so far to infuse it with this property have been hindered by scalability and expense. Bin Su, Junfei Tian and colleagues wanted to come up with a new approach.

Using a conventional roller process that's easy to scale up, the researchers coated paper with soft ionic gels to make it conductive. They sandwiched an emissive film between two layers of the ionic gel paper. When they applied a voltage, the device glowed blue, indicating that electricity was being conducted. It also showed electrical durability, withstanding more than 5,000 cycles of bending and unbending with negligible changes in performance and lasting for more than two months. The researchers say their conductive , which about $1.30 per square meter and could be fabricated at a rate of 30 meters per minute, could become an integral part of future .

Explore further: New hybrid inks for printed, flexible electronics without sintering

More information: Minghui He et al. Ionic Gel Paper with Long-Term Bendable Electrical Robustness for Use in Flexible Electroluminescent Devices, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces (2017). DOI: 10.1021/acsami.7b02433

Abstract
Conductive paper has low-cost, lightweight, sustainability, easy scale-up, and tailorable advantages, allowing for its promising potential in flexible electronics, such as bendable supercapacitors, solar cells, electromagnetic shields, and actuators. Ionic gels, exhibiting a lower Young's modulus together with facile manufacturing, can fully serve as the conductive component to prepare conductive paper. Herein we report a low-cost (∼1.3 dollars/m2), continuous, and high-throughput (up to ∼30 m/min) fabrication of reliable and long-term (stable for more than two months) conductive paper. As-prepared conductive paper shows a high electrical durability with negligible bending–recovering signal changes over 5000 cycles. Using this ionic gel paper (IGP) as a key component, we build a variety of proof-of-principle demonstrations to show the capacity of IGP in constructing flexible electroluminescent devices with diverse patterns, including a square, an alphabetic string, and a laughing face. Our methodology has the potential to open a new powerful route to fabricate bendable conductive paper for a myriad of applications in future flexible electronics.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Scientists discover new 'architecture' in corn

January 21, 2019

New research on the U.S.'s most economically important agricultural plant—corn—has revealed a different internal structure of the plant than previously thought, which can help optimize how corn is converted into ethanol.

Targeting 'hidden pocket' for treatment of stroke and seizure

January 19, 2019

The ideal drug is one that only affects the exact cells and neurons it is designed to treat, without unwanted side effects. This concept is especially important when treating the delicate and complex human brain. Now, scientists ...

Artificially produced cells communicate with each other

January 18, 2019

Friedrich Simmel and Aurore Dupin, researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), have for the first time created artificial cell assemblies that can communicate with each other. The cells, separated by fatty membranes, ...

Using bacteria to create a water filter that kills bacteria

January 18, 2019

More than one in 10 people in the world lack basic drinking water access, and by 2025, half of the world's population will be living in water-stressed areas, which is why access to clean water is one of the National Academy ...

0 comments

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.