By using a special blend of silver nanoparticles including nanowires and nanospheres, the researchers found they could significantly reduce thermal damage to the 3D-printed plastic structure while dramatically increasing the conductivity of the silver traces.
In a paper titled “Towards out-of-chamber damage-free fabrication of highly conductive nanoparticle-based circuits inside 3D printed thermally sensitive polymers” published in ScienceDirect’s Additive Manufacturing journal, the researchers report a resistivity reduction down to 11.8 μΩ-cm which they attribute to the addition of nanowires submitted to IPL sintering.
Through electromagnetic analysis and molecular dynamics simulations, they showed that the addition of nanowires concurrently reduces IPL temperature and accelerates the kinetics of resistivity reduction. Embedding electrical interconnections inside 3-D-printed structures made of polymers, or plastics, can create new paradigms for devices that are smaller and more energy-efficient.
The authors anticipate the new conductive trace printing process could benefit devices such as CubeSats (small satellites), drones, transmitters, light and motion sensors and Global Positioning Systems, to interconnet antennas, pressure sensors, electrical coils and electrical grids for electromagnetic shielding.
Next, the researchers want to make fully 3D internal circuits, creating flexible internal circuits with enhanced conductivity inside flexible 3D structures.
Rutgers University - www.rutgers.edu