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Printing circuits on an off-the-shelf inkjet

April 19th, 2007 (10:25 am)
current mood: geeky

Just seen on New Scientist: a PhD student at Leeds University has demonstrated printing circuits (and antennas) with an ordinary HP inkjet printer. It's the simplest circuit-on-paper printing yet; other processes have required more or less exotic materials, but this just took silver nitrate and vitamin C. Print the circuit with silver nitrate (preferably more than once, since inkjet drops don't actually overlap very much...news to me), then with vitamin C to reduce the silver nitrate, producing metallic silver plus other stuff; then wash off the other stuff with water. (Edit4: the journal article says you print with the vitamin C first.)

Works on paper, cotton, and some sort of transparent film. I predict a homebrew explosion here. :-)

Edit: I wonder what kind of cotton? Could this be used for circuitry on clothing?

Edit2: The original journal article is currently available for free; registration is required.

Edit3: Duh—never mind circuitry on clothing, this could be used for jewelry on clothing. Although the silver doesn't look too silvery in their pictures; it's more coppery...don't know if that's accurate, or an artifact of the camera (I know it can be hard to get a good picture of sheets of gold or silver).

Edit5: OK, if there's a homebrew explosion, I probably won't be in it yet: a quick search through the Sigma-Aldrich chemical catalog shows that enough silver nitrate and vitamin C to give about 250 mL of ink would cost about $250. I've got more fun things I could do with $250.