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Using Graphene for Printing
August 1, 2013   
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Inkjet printing is a type of printing that creates a digital image by propelling droplets of ink onto paper or fabric. This method is also used to print electronic circuits on flexible substrates that can be folded or rolled up.

Inkjet printing involves organic compounds that contain silver nanoparticles or a new form of carbon known as carbon nanotubes. However, these compounds are poor electricity conductors. Researchers from the Faculty of Physics and Applied Computer Science at the University of £ód¼ have solved the problem by using graphene, an allotropic form of carbon and a revolutionary new material that could have myriad hi-tech applications and may even replace silicon in the electronic devices of the future. The researchers have established a consortium together with the Institute of Electronic Materials Technology in Warsaw, the £ód¼ University of Technology, and the Qwerty company from £ód¼, a manufacturer of plastic electronics based on nanosilver. The consortium is managed by Prof. Zbigniew Klusek (pictured)from the University of £ód¼.

The University of £ód¼ started conducting research on graphene in 1999. “From the beginning we were interested in the electrical conductivity of graphene and the possibility of producing it in large quantities,” says Klusek, who works at the Faculty of Physics and Applied Computer Science. “The £ód¼ University of Technology, in turn, is known for its work on modern textiles, which are essentially hi-tech fabrics.”

Graphene is hundreds of times stronger than steel and conducts electricity well. Fabrics based on graphene could one day become indispensable in medicine to help monitor many important parameters such as the patient’s heart rate, blood pressure, blood oxygen saturation and body temperature.

Equally promising is the possibility of using fabrics with printed graphene electronics for the production of clothing for the army, the police, and especially firefighters. The demand for such products is bound to run high, experts say. This is confirmed by the experience of the Qwerty company, which has been selling so-called flexible electronics in Poland and abroad for more than a decade.
D. G.
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