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Posted: September 3, 2010
Electronics from a printer - of electronic radio tags and lighting wallpapers
(Nanowerk News) Glucose meters and the appropriate test strips for diabetics are expensive. This however might change, since scientists at the Institute of Printing Science and Technology (IDD) at TU Darmstadt are working on a sensor making the electronic devices considerably cheaper. The new sensor is not based on silicon as conducting material, but on plastics.
"The new plastics-electronics open up undreamt-of possibilities" foretells Dr. Hans Martin Sauer, director of the functional printing research group at IDD. "In the next five to ten years, Lighting Wallpapers and Solar Foils for cars or windows will be available commercially. They will be very low-priced because the electronic functions can be produced with the help of particularly powerful printing machines."
In the 70's it has been discovered that certain plastics, the so-called polymers, are conductive, but it is the possibility of low-cost production that makes them interesting for the industry. However, the charge carriers' speed is significantly lower in polymers than in conventional silicon. A Pentium processor will therefore never be made with polymer electronics. But wherever high conductibility is not necessary, "countless new applications will emerge", Sauer is convinced.
Printing Instructions for "Electronic Ink"
In order to print RDIF tags and other applications, mass printing processes, as applied for printing newspapers for example, are useful. The Darmstadt scientists then alter the printing machines for electronic functions. For each material, a variety of parameters need to be changed. "Considering the huge amount of potentially useable printing materials, there is not the one single procedure for all of them."