This paper demonstrates a novel technique for printing conductive structures consisting of silver nanoparticles on plastic substrates. The main advantage of this new printing technique is that it employs a novel ink delivery method that can effectively reduce the size of the printed features and hence improve printing resolution. The resolution of current printing technologies is limited by the size of the nozzles used in the print heads and the spreading of ink after deposition. Here a combination of co-solvent and substrate interactions are used to reduce the feature size of solution printed circuits.
A variety of printing parameters and their effect on the printed features is studied. These factors include the relative solvent flow rates and surface energies of the nanoparticle inks, and substrate surface energies. A simple model is also developed to explain the observed trends. Understanding how these factors affect the printing process will allow us to better control the printing as needed required by different applications. Using this printing technique, silver nanoparticle lines down to widths of approximately 30 microns are achieved using a 300 micron print nozzle.