Commercial nanoscale electronics manufacturing is still largely silicon-based, and expensive. A fabrication facility costs billions and requires massive quantities of water and power. Moreover, few nanoscale devices manufactured today exploit the unique properties and behaviors of nanomaterials such as nanotubes, quantum dots, and nanoparticles. Printing offers a unique approach to fabricating devices and products that contain nanomaterials. However, today’s low-end electronics are produced using inkjet technology, which is very slow and limited to only microscale resolution.
The NSF Center for High-rate Nanomanufacturing has developed a fully-automated prototype system that utilizes the Center’s novel nanoscale printing technology called Nanoscale Offset Printing System (NanoOPS). The system can make products that fully take advantage of the superior properties of nanomaterials. In minutes, the system can print nanoscale structures and circuits (down to 25 nanometers) onto flexible or hard substrates up to eight inches across using conductive, semiconducting or insulating nanomaterials (organic and inorganic).
This new system will transform nanomanufacturing and nano-enabled technologies and will spur innovation by drastically overcoming the high cost entry barrier to the fabrication of nanoscale devices without endangering workers or harming the environment. The proposed NanoOPS system will cost and operate at a fraction of today’s nanofabrication cost, making nanomanufacturing accessible to new innovators and entrepreneurs. NanoOPS can be used fabricate new and more affordable electronics, medicines; stronger, lighter and smart composite materials; or faster, cheaper energy harvesting and robust storage.