PORTLAND, Ore. Fabrication time for flexible electronics ranging from disposable displays to plastic solar cells could be reduced from 48 hours to 30 minutes, according to researchers at the Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center for High-rate Nanomanufacturing (CHN).
By switching from temperamental block co-polymers to easier-to-use polymer blends, the researchers claim their nanoscale templates can more quickly pattern flexible electronics applications as diverse as biosensors, photovoltaics, displays and semiconductor nanolithography.
The new template design and polymer blends "will simplify the fabrication of flexible electronics and nanolithography applications," said Joey Mead, deputy director of CHN at the University of Massachusetts. "We have demonstrated both chemically patterned surface templates as well as using electric fields for electrophoretic assembly."
Other nanofabrication techniques using block co-polymers rely on the self-assembly that can only create repeating patterns useful for blocks like memory arrays. However, they do not work well for patterning non-repeating logic circuits
The CHN researchers generated templates for a variety of complex geometrical patterns including 90-degree bends, T-junctions and both square and circular arrays.
CHN is funded by the National Science Foundation and staffed by researchers from the University of Massachusetts, Northeastern University, the University of New Hampshire, Michigan State University and the Museum of Science in Boston.