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 graphene, 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 quantum physics 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.To read more, click here.