Lasers enable point of use manufacture of customised electronics

Blue circuit croppedA new laser technology may hold the key to the manufacture of electronics at the point of use, anytime and anywhere. The technology is named Laser Ink Transfer for Printable Electronic Devices, or LITPED, and was publicised for the first time during the Innovations in Large Area Electronics (innoLAE) conference in Cambridge. LITPED was invented and patented by the Cambridge-based DZP Technologies Ltd, and developed jointly with the research group of Professor Bartek Glowacki at the University of Cambridge and the Transnational Energy Materials Printing Research Initiative, TEMPRI, with financial support from Innovate UK (previously the Technology Strategy Board).

"There is great potential for collaborative integration of the research on inkjet printing and LITPED for the benefit of zero-waste processing of electronic and functional devices.” – Professor Bartek Glowacki

LITPED utilises the transfer of functional inks from an ink carrier onto a substrate using laser radiation to form pre-defined patterns and circuits. The process takes place at ambient conditions via a completely additive, almost zero-waste process, and is capable of rapidly producing a range of devices, from RFID antenna and smart surfaces to miniaturised circuits for biosensors and smart packaging. The existing processes for electronics manufacture require tooling and lithographic masks whilst LITPED may enable the point-of-use fabrication of user-defined electronics at home or in the work-place, using digital files over the internet and combining the unique capabilities of LITPED with the power of information technology, 3D printing, and the Internet of Things.

The two research teams previously collaborated on inkjet printing of DZP Technologies’ silver conductive inks to produce a base for paper electronics, and this novel work was published in the Journal of Electronic Materials. Findings from this previous research were critical for advancing the LITPED technology, which also uses silver printing to manufacture the electrical connectors in the device, together with carbon and graphene patterning to complete the circuits.

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