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The University of Nottingham has cracked the conundrum of how to use inks to 3-D-print novel electronic devices with useful properties, such as an ability to convert light into electricity.

The study shows that it is possible to jet inks, containing tiny flakes of 2-D materials such as , to build up and mesh together the different layers of these complex, customised structures.

Using quantum mechanical modelling, the researchers also pinpointed how electrons move through the 2-D material layers, to completely understand how the ground-breaking devices can be modified in future.

Paper co-author, Professor Mark Fromhold, Head of the School of Physics and Astronomy said, "By linking together fundamental concepts in with state-of-the art-engineering, we have shown how complex devices for controlling electricity and light can be made by printing layers of material that are just a few atoms thick but centimetres across.

"According to the laws of quantum mechanics, in which the electrons act as waves rather than particles, we found electrons in 2-D materials travel along complex trajectories between multiple flakes. It appears as if the electrons hop from one flake to another like a frog hopping between overlapping lily pads on the surface of a pond."

The study, 'Inter-Flake Quantum Transport of Electrons and Holes in Inkjet-Printed Graphene Devices', has been published in the peer-reviewed journal Advanced Functional Materials.

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Category: Science
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